Build-a-kit to prepare for the worst

Until Aug. 26, the Canadian Red Cross has joined forces with Walmart Canada to raise funds for disaster preparedness response.

Until Aug. 26, the Canadian Red Cross has joined forces with Walmart Canada to raise funds for disaster preparedness response.

Walmart will match every $1 donation at their checkouts to the Canadian Red Cross, up to $2,000 per customer, at each of its stores.

According to Sharan Dhillon, a Red Cross spokesperson, all of the funds raised in the campaign stay in the province, and in the event of a disaster, “the Red Cross would deploy volunteers as far as needed . . . no community would be left behind.”

The last natural disaster to hit the Cowichan Valley was in 2009, when the Cowichan River flooded its banks in the Duncan area. The Red Cross is warning that disaster can strike anywhere, at any time, and they don’t want residents to be caught unprepared.

Dhillon says that besides the basics: four litres of water per day per person, clothing, food, and a First Aid kit, there are other essential items that often get overlooked.

“If you take prescription medication, get extra,” she said. “This gets missed a lot.”

She also recommends an extra pair of glasses — for those who need them — mobility aids, pet food, “unless you want to give your human food to your pets,” some cash, and photocopies of personal identification.

“It’s about changing how you think about things,” said Dhillon, adding that it helps to think about the very real reality that during a disaster there might not even be access to 911 emergency. Many individuals may find themselves in a situation where they have access to only what they have on them at the time.

This is why she also recommends putting together smaller kits for vehicles, separate from larger kits that should be kept  in the home.

These smaller kits, usually a backpack, would need to contain enough emergency rations to last at least 24 to 72 hours.

Dhillon recommends that items for home kits be stored in plastic totes, and should include enough supplies to last six to seven days.

The Cowichan Valley Regional District has put together an Emergency Preparedness Workbook, accessible through their website,, with the help of Sybille Sanderson, the CVRD’s acting general manager.

This workbook gives detailed information on how to prepare yourself and your home for an emergency, suggests appropriate foods to have stored, how to deal with pets, and gives detailed maps for emergency reception centres in the Cowichan Valley.

Though Walmart does carry many of the items needed for an emergency preparedness kit, these items can be sourced locally here in Lake Cowichan through retail outlets such as Irly Building Centre, Country Grocer, and I.D.A Island Pharmacy.

If residents wish to make a donation to the Canadian Red Cross, but do not wish to make the drive into Duncan, they can do so by visiting the website at


Lake Cowichan Gazette