Preparedness Information

Emergencies and disasters can occur anywhere, at any time. It could be anything from an earthquake, to a flood, to a severe winter storm. In the event of a major disaster, you and your family should be able to take care of your basic needs for at least 72 hours.

We encourage everyone to prepare their personal or family emergency plan, and have an emergency kit ready that includes basic supplies as well as special needs items. Always maintain a ¼ tank of gas in your vehicle and keep a flashlight and hard-soled shoes beside each family member’s bed so evacuation in the dark, at night during an emergency is easier to navigate.

26 Weeks to Emergency Preparedness Tip Sheet

This helpful tip sheet, 26 Weeks to Emergency Preparedness describes 26 actions that you and your family can undertake, one at a time, over the course of 26 weeks. ​Once they are all completed, you will have all the ​necessary supplies for you and your family's basic needs to take care of yourselves for 72 hours following an emergency or disaster.

Tip 1 - Portable Container ​- Emergency Kit
Get a portable container (or containers depending on the size of your family) with a lid to use as an emergency kit that will hold all your family’s emergency supplies for 72 hours. A plastic storage bin or garbage can works and one with wheels is ideal. Label the container and keep it in an accessible location near an exit, and make sure all family members know where it is.

Tip 2 - Water! 3-day Supply of Water
Everyone needs water - even your pets. The first item you can add to your Emergency Kit is a three-day supply of water (and water purification tablets) - four litres of water per person per day (two for drinking and two for food preparation and hygiene). Add extra water for your pets.

Tip 3​ - Identify an Out-of-Area Phone Contact
Arrange an out-of-area contact person and make sure each family member has that person’s numbers with them all the time by completing an out-of-area contact card. Choose an emergency contact who lives outside our province who will not be affected by a major event, such as an earthquake. Try text messaging, email or social media to communicate before calling your emergency contact because in an emergency, local phone and mobile networks could be overwhelmed or unavailable. When you reach your emergency contact, tell them how you are and where you plan to be; ask who else has checked in; advise when you will check in again; and remember to keep the call short, as others will be trying to call their emergency contacts.

Tip 4​ - Stock up on non-perishable Foods!
It’s important to stock your emergency kit with appropriate varieties and types of food for each family member to sustain them for at least 72 hours - don’t forget to include a manual can opener! Suggested items include:

  • canned food like stews, baked beans and vegetables,
  • dried fruit in a sealed foil package,
  • dried soups, crackers and peanut butter,
  • containers of juice or juice crystals,
  • evaporated, canned or powdered milk,
  • freeze-dried or foil pouch food products like meats, soups, vegetables and stews, and
    nuts and granola bars.

Make sure you replace food items on a regular basis, (quarterly or semi-annually) to ensure fresh supplies are always in your kit.

Tip 5 - Portable Radio and Batteries
In the case of a natural disaster or some other emergency, there may be no electricity so you cannot find out what is going on by watching television or accessing computers, or even using your cell phone. That is why another essential piece in any emergency preparedness kit is a portable radio with extra batteries or a hand crank radio. You can find these at electronics stores or outdoor supplies stores.

Tip 6 - Identify Home Hazards
Do a home hazard hunt to make your home safe. Find out what the hazards are in your community.

  • Know how to turn off utilities - learn where your electrical panel, water and gas valves are located and how to turn them off in case you are instructed to do so by local officials.
  • Secure your space - if it’s taller than it’s wide, secure it! Earthquakes can topple bookcases and heavy furniture - here are a few easy steps to follow:
    • Secure tall, free-standing furniture, such as bookcases, china cabinets and shelving units to wall studs using “L” brackets, corner brackets or anodized, aluminum molding.
    • Consider moving all framed pictures and mirrors away from beds, couches and chairs as earthquakes have a tendency to knock pictures and mirrors off the walls.
    • Secure cabinet doors with a latch to prevent them from flying open.
    • Use strong strapping and ratchets or other connectors to secure appliances such as refrigerators, freezers, washers and dryers to prevent them from moving during an earthquake.
    • Secure your water heater with straps that anchor the tank snugly to the wall and contract a licensed gas fitter to install a flexible gas line.

Tip 7 - Assign Safety Tasks to each Family Member
Divide up the responsibility of specific safety tasks amongst family members for an emergency. For example - turning off electricity, collecting the emergency container(s), tracking down family members, and taking charge of family members with special health or mobility needs and lastly, taking care of any family pets. Everyone can pitch in, and knowing their role can help them understand the importance of emergency planning.

Tip 8 - Safe Places
Ensure your family has an evacuation plan from your home that includes a safe family meeting place and ensure all family members know the plan. Identify the safest places in your home and on your property in the case of an emergency. Practice emergency drills (drop, cover hold on) and evacuation drills using two different escape routes from each room. Be a hero, be prepared.

Tip 9 - Plastic Garbage Bags!
Stock your emergency kit with both large and medium-sized plastic garbage bags (orange or yellow make good visible signals). These are useful for personal hygiene and the large bags can also be used as ponchos, ground covers or blankets. Also add plastic or paper dishes and cutlery to your kit.

Tip 10 - Flashlight & Extra Batteries
Add a flashlight and extra batteries, along with candles and waterproof matches to your emergency kit.

Tip 11 - Insurance Policies
After a disaster, you may need to replace lost or damaged household items large and small, as well as make other type of financial recoveries. Check all your insurance policies - business, residence and vehicles - and make records of all your possessions so replacement can be more straightforward if necessary. Place copies (paper or digital) of all policies in your emergency kit.

Tip 12 - First-Aid Kit
Prepare a first-aid kit that includes extra prescription medications and eyeglasses, bandages, sterile gauze pads, tape, scissors, tweezers, antibiotic ointment, hydrogen peroxide and over-the-counter pain pills.

Tip 13 - Change of Clothing
You won’t know how long you may not have access to your home, or what may remain after a disaster but you will need clothing. Add a change of clothing for each family member including warm clothing for winter and lighter for summer months (shorts, t-shirts, fleece, sweat pants, socks, shoes, etc.). Also pack heavy work gloves and sturdy shoes.

Tip 14 - Personal Toiletry Items
Every family member has different needs; don't forget to add personal toiletry items / supplies for each of them to your emergency preparedness kit. Gather personal toiletry items needed by all family members - toilet paper, handy wipes, soap, hand sanitizer, detergent, toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, sanitary supplies, etc.

Tip 15 - Be a Hero, Be Prepared
After a disaster, help may not be able to get to you and you might have to take care of your own personal needs. You and your family should be able to take care of your basic needs for at least 72 hours after a disaster - be a hero, and be prepared​ - attend an ​emergency preparedness training session ​so you can learn how to get prepared. You can also inquire with the City Emergency program office staff to book your own session. Visit

Tip 16 - Take Care of Your Most Vulnerable
Do you have family members with special needs such as a baby, senior or someone with a disability? Are you prepared to take care of them after the crisis of a disaster? If you have babies or toddlers in your family, pack infant supplies such as disposable diapers, disposable bottles, formula, teething ointments/products, skin care products, etc. in your emergency kit. Add supplies for the frail, elderly and those with disabilities. ​Take care ​of your most vulnerable.

Tip 17 - Pets & their Supplies
Pets are family members with special needs during and following a disaster. Are you prepared to care for your pet? Compile your pet emergency kit - leash or pet carrier, three-day supply of pet food and water, pet profile and vet information, animal shelter details and up-to-date vaccination cards. Attend a Disaster Preparedness & Basic First Aid for Pets​ training session.

Tip 18 - Assemble Important Documents & Family Photo Albums
After an emergency or disaster, you will need access to a variety of important documents and want to know ​any family photo albums have been preserved. Take some time now to assemble important documents and identification - both paper and / or digital copies​ - like wills, passports, insurance papers, medical records, inventory of possessions, identification, etc. and place them in a fireproof/ waterproof container. Don't forget to include family photo albums.

Tip 19 - Sleeping Bags & Blankets
There are many reasons why after a disaster you may need blankets or sleeping bags to keep warm. You could be evacuated or your home and its belongings may be severely damaged. The comfort of being able to keep warm and dry can be life-saving. Add sleeping bags, blankets and / or thermal insulated covers to your kit.

Tip 20 - Duct Tape & Plastic Sheeting

After a disaster, you might not be displaced but still able to stay in your home; however, there will likely be damage and you will require protection from the elements. Store duct tape as well as plastic sheeting and they can be used to cover up damaged doors and windows. 

Tip 21 - Connect with Your Neighbours
Meet with neighbours to discuss emergency preparedness and potentially sharing resources. Book a Personal, Family and Community Emergency Preparedness session with the Coquitlam Emergency Management Program Office for your group. We'd love to help you prepare for an emergency. Or, attend an upcoming emergency preparedness session with your family, friends and neighbours - we have a number of session dates to choose from.

Tip 22 - Large Bucket, Tools & Small Necessities
Get a large bucket with a tightfitting lid to to store emergency tools like a hatchet and axe, pocket knife (Swiss army style), a folding shovel, garbage bags, tarps and rope, as well as necessities like cutlery, whistle, spare set of house and car keys, cash, small/ pocket games, deck of cards, paper and markers to your container. Importantly, it could also be used as a temporary toilet.

Tip 23 - First-aid Course
Enroll one or more family members in a first-aid course and include a HELP / OK sign with your kit that can advise emergency personnel on your status.

Tip 24 - Keep your Kids Informed
Make sure children know their last name, phone number, address, and number for the out-of-area contact person in case you are separated during or after a disaster.

Tip 25 - Know ​Disaster Response Routes & Evacuation Plans
Understand wh​ere your community’s ​disaster response routes are, your evacuation plan at your workplace and what your children’s school or daycare emergency policies are. Disaster Response Routes are a network of roads intended to allow emergency services to travel where needed during disasters. Learning to recognize these routes is an important step in preparing for an earthquake or other disaster.

Preparedness Training Sessions - ​Be a Hero, Be Prepared

The City of Coquitlam’s Emergency Management Office offers HEROS Community Emergency Preparedness training to help you become better prepared at home.

Watch for these sessions in your community, or request a course for your community group by contacting 604-927-6434 or

During an emergency, one of the best ways to stay informed is online or via social media.

In an emergency in Coquitlam, ​follow us on the City's website, Facebook page and Twitter and ​listen to the radio for Public Safety Bulletins for current, up-to-date information.

Provided that we have the ability to do so (e.g. we have power and can access the Internet), the City of Coquitlam will post updates regularly online at, via twitter  (@cityofcoquitlam) or on Facebook ( If you use these tools, you should be sure to bookmark, follow or ‘like’ us!

Top 10 Risks in B.C.

Emergencies and disasters can be anything from an earthquake, to a flood, to a severe winter storm that interrupts your normal way of life. Hazards vary depending on where you live​ - below is a list of the top 10 risks in B.C. Familiarize yourself with the ones that could occur in your area. Knowing which ones you face will influence how you prepare.

  1. Avalanches
  2. Disease Outbreaks
  3. Earthquakes
  4. Floods
  5. Hazardous Materials Spills
  6. Landslides
  7. Power Outages
  8. Severe Weather
  9. Tsunamis
  10. Wildland Fires

Preparedness Tips in the Case of Power Outages

The most common occurrence during a rain/wind storm is often extended periods of power outage mainly due to trees and other plant debris impacting power lines. 

  • Residents should have personal preparedness kits made up with up-to-date supplies and be prepared to stay on their own for a minimum of 72hours .This is the minimum requirement and, more practically, residents should consider being prepared to be on their own for up to a week. Information on preparing a kit, contents etc.,can be found here.
  • Residents should ensure their insurance coverage is up to date and keep copies of their coverage in their emergency kit.
  • While a power outage is not a disaster and generally will not require residents to evacuate their home, residents can further prepare by having a portable generator to power items such as fridges and freezers.However, make sure if you are operating a generator it’s placed outside your residence and the exhaust does not enter your home.
  • Residents might want to consider maintaining a land line phone - these units do not require power and as long as your phone line is intact, access should be maintained. Cordless phone stop working when the power is out.
  • Consider purchasing an external battery device that will charge a couple of smartphones and a tablet in just over an hour. These devices are readily available at most electronic stores for a reasonable cost ($20-$100) and are invaluable during power outages.

Business Emergency Preparedness

The following checklist will get you started to prepare your business to respond to and recover from a major emergency:

  • Brief staff and assign emergency tasks so they know what they have to do before, during and after an emergency.
  • Assemble emergency supplies to last the average number of people on the premises for at least 72 hours.
  • Assess/Minimize building vulnerability to potential hazards.
  • Identify critical resources for your business and establish backup suppliers. 
  • Identify vital records and back up or store duplicates off the premises.
  • Establish alternative communications methods with employees, suppliers and customers.
  • Review insurance and purchase additional coverage if required.
  • Coordinate emergency plans with other tenants, neighbours and business partners.

For more detailed information, visit Emergency Preparedness for Industry and Commerce Council.

Emergency Planning for People with Disabilities

The Emergency Management BC website contains detailed checklists to assist people with disabilities to become better prepared for an emergency or disaster.  This includes general preparedness tips and tips specifically designed for individuals with mobility, visual, hearing and cognitive disabilities.

Additional information and resources is available from the following organizations:

  • Public Safety Canada, Emergency Preparedness Guide for People with Disabilities/Special Needs.
  • The Disability Alliance BC has been working with a broad network of disability organizations and people with disabilities to build relationships with the emergency management sector.

Emergency Program Office

Phone: 604-927-6438