Being Prepared for a Quake

Any time there is a natural disaster of significant magnitude anywhere in the world; we all sit up and take notice. There is a sudden rush to prepare as each of us thinks, “How would I fare if this happened in my backyard?” Maybe there is a fully stocked emergency kit somewhere in your house, maybe you have a drawer with a flashlight and a few candles, or maybe you have a well intentioned emergency plan that is still waiting to get off the ground. In any case, an emergency preparedness plan is like a good insurance policy. Hopefully you will never need it, but if an emergency arises, it will be there for you.

There are many terrific resources available on the BC Provincial Emergency Program website to help you and your family prepare for any type of disaster, including a comprehensive Emergency Preparedness Guide (PDF) for creating your family’s personal emergency plan. But what about planning for your workplace, community centre, school, or larger residential complex?

Shipping containers come in a variety of sizes, and are the perfect place to securely store emergency supplies. They are being widely used by school groups, government organizations and municipalities to house emergency supplies in case of a local disaster.

A strategically placed container can provide a safe and obvious gathering place in the moments after an evacuation. Generally, you should think about placing your emergency preparedness container in an open area away from buildings, trees, gas and power lines and any other obvious environmental obstacles. In the event that there is structural collapse, the contents of the container will still be easily and immediately accessible.

What should you re in your emergency preparedness container?

A comprehensive list of personal necessities can be found here (PDF), but there are some other items you may want to consider when preparing a larger scale emergency kit.

  • Extra flashlights or lanterns (hand crank style or with extra batteries)
  • Radio (hand crank style or with extra batteries)
  • Water and water purification items
  • Extra First Aid Supplies
  • A cot for serious injuries
  • Shovels, crow bars, hammers and other tools (for clearing debris or constructing temporary shelter)
  • Blankets
  • Tarps (for ground cover and to protect from the elements)
  • Large garbage bin and garbage bags
  • Basic hygiene items (toilet paper, hand sanitizer or moist wipes)
  • Stove and fuel (stored safely according to manufacturer’s instructions)
  • Large pot for boiling water

What can you do to turn an ordinary shipping container into an Emergency Preparedness Container?

There is no end to the modifications that can be done to add function and practicality to your container in the event of a large (or small) scale disaster. There are many more expensive custom options out there that will work for some, but also many cost effective, simple solutions that will work for everyone.

  • Shelving can be place on 1, 2, 3 or all 4 walls in any configuration you can imagine. Free standing or wall mounted options are readily available. In the event of flooding, a container with properly maintained seals will keep out water for a period of time. If there is some water present in the container, placing items on shelving may prevent water damage to critical emergency supplies.
  • Hooks welded on the exterior wall near the top of the container can be used to connect a tarp for shelter from the elements. Rain is an obvious issue, but sun exposure could be even more dangerous in the aftermath of a disaster when water may be in short supply.
  • Peg board wall for hanging tools and other items
  • Cork board on the wall for tacking up maps, phone numbers, emergency procedures, and other information.
  • Spray foam insulation on the ceiling can help reduce the possibility of interior condensation and can help regulate interior temperature.
  • A high security lock and lock box to help protect your emergency supplies from theft.

These are just a few of the ways that an ordinary shipping container can be modified to store a larger scale emergency preparedness kit. But remember, like an insurance policy that you renew annually, your emergency kit will need a quick once over each year to make sure that it contains everything you need.

Emergency Preparedness Guide (PDF)
BC Provincial Emergency Program
Emergency Supplies Checklist (PDF)