Preparing your Calgary Home for Emergencies

There was a point in time when we just thought that it rained a lot in the summer and snowed heavily in the winter. Many of us in Calgary were shocked that a natural disaster could actually occur right here in our very own City. The flood of 2013 was a reminder that we are not immune to such events. It is difficult to plan, but we need to learn from history and be prepared for any emergency. Here are some tips and things to keep in mind in order to make sure your home and family are as ready as possible.

Local Input~ Tijana Martin, Calgary Herald. CALGARY, AB .: JUNE 21, 2013 -- The flooded streets near Riverfront Ave SE and 1st ST SE is photographed on Friday, June 21, 2013. ( Tijana Martin/ Calgary Herald) For CITY story by Erika Stark. Trax # 00046293A

Basement Drainage

While all new and rebuilt homes lying within Alberta’s “flood zone” are now required, by provincial law, to incorporate active flood mitigation features, it’s always a good idea to install flood prevention mechanisms even if you don’t have to. All homes, regardless of where they are, can be flooded through the municipal sewer system, and there’s also no telling when a major rainstorm or natural disaster could send groundwater levels spiking to extreme levels.

Backflow valves and sump pumps are two of the most common anti-flooding features used in homes today. However, their modes of action differ significantly, so you should certainly be aware of how each appliance works to protect your investment.

Backflow valves only allow water to flow out. These one-way valves essentially seal off incoming sewage routes into your home. Many new homes come with a backflow valve installed, but if in an older home or building, you need to have one installed by a professional.

A sump pump system removes ground water that is collected by drain rock and drain tile, away from the foundation of your home. Water is collected in a basin located at the lowest point of your home. Rising water levels in the basin trigger the pump to activate and remove the water from around the foundation.

Tip: make sure to check your sump pumps at least once a year to ensure functionality. Remember if electricity is lost, your sump pump will not work. If you are in a higher risk flood zone area, consider having a gas generator on hand to ensure your pump will continue to operate for as long as possible.

***Visit Who To Call for a service provider to install backflow or sump pump for you.

 The 72 Hour Emergency Preparedness Kit

72-hour kit contains supplies to support you and your family for three days, and will help you be prepared for all emergency situations. It should be readily available and stored in a spot that is easily accessible by everyone. Your kit needs to contain enough water for your group for this time period.

Your 72 Hour Calgary Kit should include:

  • First Aid Kit
  • Torch/ Candles & Matches/ Lantern/ Flashlight
  • Battery operated/ turn crank radio
  • Extra batteries
  • Food that wont spoil, such as canned goods and non perishables
  • Dust Masks
  • Duct Tape
  • Blanket: must be warm and able to fold up to be small
  • All in one multitool that includes pliers, a can opener, knife, screwdriver etc.
  • Work gloves
  • Nylon rope
  • Hand wipes or sanitizer
  • Cash/ small change
  • Change of clothing for each family member and extra footwear
  • Rubber boots
  • A phone that does not rely on power to operate

Many of these tools and products can be found at MEC, Walmart and other local hardware or outdoor stores.

Well Maintained Wood Burning Fireplace

In the case of an emergency these can be handy to help prepare food or provide warmth. Therefore, it is important to have your chimney cleaned every fall, to prepare it for cold Calgary winters and in case of any sort of emergency. Check out Who to Call for a list of Chimney Cleaning contractors and service providers that can help you with this.

Wood Burning Fire Place

Gas Generator

Some homes have a gas generator on hand in case of emergency power outages. Small generators can be used to keep small household appliances running. It is important to operate these units safely and in an open area. It is also possible to plumb a generator into your home so that it automatically takes over low level power generation in the event of an outage.

Important Document Storage

“Important Documents” include: Wills, passports, insurance documents, birth & marriage certificates and any other personal documents. It is important to first of all make a copy of all of these documents and save them on a hard drive. Store the original documents in the safest place possible. Make sure to store above ground level, in case of flooding and consider getting a fireproof file cabinet.

 Secure Loose Items

Calgary gets some pretty strong winds and hey, you never know when they will turn into more than just a windstorm. Make sure to secure everything in your backyard, patio and porch, as well as the shingles on your roof. Any of these items become flying weapons once they take flight, causing damage to property and people.

Fire Safety

Items All Homes Should Have:

 Fire Escape Ladders Make sure to have a few of these ladders spread throughout the higher levels of your home. In the instance of a fire you will automatically have a good exit plan if you are stuck inside.

 Fire Extinguishers

These are important to have on every level of your home and to have an extra one in your kitchen- just in case. Tip: Some insurance policies will give you a lower rate if you have them spread throughout your home. It is important to buy multipurpose ABC extinguishers and to periodically check the pressure gauges- charge when needed.

Smoke Detectors

It is ideal to have a battery operated detector with a sealed in 10 year lithium battery. However, this does not mean that the battery could not still fail. Make sure to test the battery monthly and if you use regular batteries, be sure to change them at least once a year. Also ensure that you have a detector on every level of your house- especially in or near the kitchen.

Carbon Monoxide Detector

The same deal applies here, make sure to test the batteries monthly and change them at least once a year. Make sure there is one on every level, especially near bedrooms or sleeping areas so that you will wake up if the alarm goes off during the night.

**Visit the Who to Call Website for Alarm system professionals that can help you with the installation and maintenance of these detectors and alarms.

Homeowners Insurance

It is extremely important to have homeowners insurance for your home and or belongings. Fully understanding the coverage that you have is equally as important. Be sure to look for the Who To Call blog this Friday that will outline some of the changes occurring in Homeowners Insurance in Alberta.




Alana Kitchen
Alana Kitchen
Alana Kitchen, founder of Who To Call Inc. Taking care of a house with three boys I always needed a good drywaller on speed dial. When I moved to Calgary I quickly discovered it was an Olympic sport to find home service businesses that provided the quality service and advice I was looking for. This experience inspired Who To Call – a website dedicated to helping Calgarians find quality home service repair companies. Sign up to post your project and find quality companies today!
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