Preparing for Other Emergencies

red cross hospital

First off, thank you to everyone for your comments and suggestions re: Monday’s post! I’ve made my decision for February’s savings goals, at least, which you’ll see next week in my monthly budget post. As for March and April… well, we’ll see when the time comes.

I think one of the reasons I’ve been so stressed about the idea of not reaching my savings goals so early on in the year is because my brain has been focused on one thing lately: preparing for emergencies. Just a few days ago, I was telling a friend how I had bought jumper cables to put in the trunk of my car, along with a blanket, flashlight, water, etc. His reply made me laugh: Do you know something we don’t!? No, I don’t!

I honestly don’t know where all of this is coming from – the savings goals, insurance policies, etc. I’ve been seeking balance in all the other areas of my life, but there’s this feeling inside of me that’s telling me I need to be ready for something bad to happen. For years, I was living so far over the edge of my comfort zone, with absolutely zero resources (financial and otherwise) to help me in case of an emergency. Now that I can finally afford to start saving and taking care of myself, I have this sense of urgency to prepare for absolutely every possible scenario. (Note: This is not what balanced looks like, lol.)

Anyway, aside from just my savings and health-related goals for this year, there are a few other emergencies I want to prepare for:


If you grew up in British Columbia, you were raised to believe “The Big One” would happen at some point in your lifetime. Living in the Pacific Ring of Fire, we experience earthquakes all the time. It wasn’t until I was living in Toronto that I realized not every province practices earthquake drills or hosts an annual “ShakeOut“. I also hadn’t thought about the fact that British Columbians may be the only Canadians who need to add earthquake insurance to their home/tenant insurance policies (which I purchased in December).

It’s impossible for me to predict whether or not I’ll actually experience a “big” earthquake while living here, but I want to have an earthquake kit prepped and ready in case I do. This year, I want to piece together a big earthquake kit for my home and a smaller kit (mostly food and water) for my car. And taking a tip from Preet’s new book, I’m also going to take out a few hundred dollars cash and keep that with my kit indoors – because you never know when you could be in a situation where debit systems are down for a few days.


Other than smoke alarms and a fire extinguisher, there’s no such thing as a “kit” that could help protect you from the aftermath of a fire. If I was inside and managed to escape, I’d likely try to grab my keys, wallet + earthquake kit on the way out. But there is one thing I would like to purchase this year, to help protect me in case anything I owned went up in flames: a fireproof file folder/safe. I’d been thinking about it for a few weeks, when Catherine mentioned she got one at Christmas. For less than $50, I think I’d feel a lot better knowing my paperwork, passport, emergency cash, etc. were locked up in one.

The Worst Case Scenario

Since I’m single and have no dependants, I’ve never felt the need to write up a will – and truthfully, I still don’t. I have beneficiaries assigned for all my savings accounts. Mom and Dad know I’d want them to sell my stuff and split the cash between Baby Bro and Baby Sis. And that’s it… I think!? Unless you can tell me something I’m missing! Should someone like me get a will, if my beneficiaries are all lined up? I’d love to hear what some of you have done and what helped you make your decision around this.

I don’t really have a timeline for when I’d like to have all this stuff purchased / pieced together by… these are just thoughts that have been in the back of my mind. Maybe I’ll start making a list of what I want to buy now and start saving for one big haul, so I can buy everything after the next three (expensive) months go by.

Are you prepared for any/all emergencies?

Flickr: afagen

  • Do you have renter’s insurance? If so, that will cover any fire expense you may have, but I totally agree on investing in a fire safe as well! It’s on my to-do list.

    We are debating wills as well. Now that we are married, it’s obvious who will be in charge of my money and things when I die, but what if something were to happen to both of us? How would our families split it (not that there’s much to split!)? I think we’ll wait one more year and look in to it.

  • I literally have 5 minutes to post this before I have to run to work.

    To everyone reading this that doesn’t have a will – you absolutely need one. Married, single, common-law – it doesn’t matter. Regardless of having someone else’s name on a bank account, designated insurance beneficiaries. That helps but if you die with out that important piece of paper the government steps in and it is messy and needlessly more expensive. There are probate laws that kick in and make it a real pain. Straight forward wills are not expensive to have done and will save your families heartache and money when they shouldn’t be worried about you not having a will. OK off the soapbox now.

    I rent and the tenant’s policy I have is great – I have extra coverage. I pay more for it but the peace of mind is worth the extra $$$ a month. A couple of months ago the fire alarms went off in my apartment – no fire (someone burnt something and opened their door to clear the smoke and set off the main alarms) but I learned an important lesson. I now have a grab and go bag with my important papers but your post is making me think the fire safe is a good idea (I had no idea they were so reasonably priced).

  • Good morning Cait! Excellent post :) …thought I’d share my $0.02 yet again, lol

    First of all, with regards to a will, I am interested in reading others comments about it, as I am in a similar situation to yourself. I do not have a will, but I have the preliminary paperwork from a lawyer to fill out, and once I do that, I will make an appointment to get it done. I think the cost is around $300-$400 for me. This paperwork has literally been on my desk for the better part of a year, and so it’s on my long-term to-do list to get it done this year. That being said, I am also single with no dependents. I have beneficies for my investments and life insurance, my dad is on the title of my house, we’ve had the talk and my parents know my wishes, however I have still been told time and time again that if you have any assets, you should have a will. I think in the end it would just make the process a lot easier for family to settle, because they wouldn’t have to deal with government/courts and wait for all that stuff to be cleared before they could wrap things up. But I don’t really know!

    As far as natural disasters… after the two-day power outage we had in December, I took out a couple hundred dollars to keep at home just in case. I do have food and water at home but not really for “survival” purposes. In a worst case scenario, I’d have to leave my house (I did in December)… and I would make my way to my parents (10 mins away) where at least they have a fireplace/wood and a generator. The emergency cash would be to buy some food if I needed or put gas in my car.

    I do not have my documents in anything fireproof but that is something I would like to do. I have all my house docs, passports, insurance, etc. in a filing cabinet.

    And for personal emergencies, I do have my e-fund in my place at an amount I am comfortable with (about 6 months expenses) … I have critical illness/disability insurance through work, and of course there’s employment insurance. I’m comfortable with the payments I am responsible for monthly (mortgage, insurance, etc) that I could manage for awhile should something really bad happen.

    I like these kinds of posts that make me think!


    • Your 2 pennies are always welcome here, Dayle. ;)

      Somehow, I have a feeling we’ll both be getting wills this year. Just a hunch, since we are basically the same person already! hehe

  • A lot of these things are also on my to-do list. I’ve been meaning to get $300 cash so that I have it on hand should the plastic stop working. My parents did this – both of them generally kept $200 in cash in their wallets, and had a stash upstairs of another $200, just in case.

    I’ve also been meaning to get a will – things are a bit complicated on my front. I own a home (solo, not with my common-law partner), have life insurance to cover it should something happen, and don’t have the beneficiaries where I want them to be. I have a lot of work to get that stuff straightened out. I’ve started to get my finances in order, but estate planning… not so much.

    • I don’t think I realized you owned your home (or maybe I forgot)! Think you’ll prioritize some of these tasks this year? :)

      • It’s confusing. I rent currently, but I own a home that I used to live in (it’s rented out). Sadly the market here isn’t what it is out West, and I would have sold at a loss… so renting it out was the only somewhat reasonable option.

        I’m going to get a few of these things in place, I hope. It’s all so daunting and ominous.

  • hey there,
    i think you should look into both a Will and Powers of Attorney. Even tho you are single and you have designated beneficiaries I think both are still very important to have. You should consider it.

  • You may not need to formally document this, but make sure you communicate health wishes with your family. This is especially important if you would want your organs donated or wouldn’t want to stay on life support beyond a certain length of time. Creepy and morbid, I know. But I have had several friends receive organ transplants and always bring up the donor item with people I know. It saves lives! :-)

      • Great comment, I was going to mention this. Even thought most provinces allow you to indicate on your health care if you would like to be an organ donor you should let your family know; as the final decision after you’re gone is with them. You should look into a “living will” it allows you to outline your wishes for situations where you might be a live but cannot make the choices yourself (life support etc). At the very least make your family aware of your wishes; I had this congo with my dad and it was awkward but I’m glad I did.

        As always great post!

        • Ahhh, interesting about the organ donor thing. I didn’t realize that! And yes, I’m going to start looking into all of this, this year. Thanks for your comment and added info, L!

  • You need a will Caitlin, if not your estate goes into probate. The government make this difficult to sort out. xo

  • If you’re planning to keep much emergency cash, you may want to keep some of it as traveller’s cheques. They’re a bit more secure in case of loss or theft.

    For sure, it would be better to say on a public blog that you have some travellers cheques in your home or in your car, than to say you plan to leave cash there! Just sayin’ : )

    The will may/may not be urgent, but Power of Attorney for personal care and for finances would be a great idea. If you’re just disabled, you’ll need your investments for your care and you probably know who you’d trust best to manage them for you.

  • Yep Cait, I too agree with the previous comments. Get a small fireproof safe – not too expensive (but don’t rush getting it until after the next few months of expenses are out of the way). We also rent a safety deposit box at our neighbourhood bank (to store valuable stuff) but certain papers are best kept in a secure personal safe. Here’s a link explaining more in detail as to what to keep where –

    Another thing that I agree with – whether married, single, or whatever – make out a will AND a power of attorney. I’ll leave it to you to do some quick research on Google as to the reasons why (you gotta do some of this stuff yourself, ya know – lol) but, trust me (and check with your parents if you don’t believe me), you really should – and do not – repeat – do not procrastinate on this point. Too many young people do, since thinking of death and mortality is a bummer and young people figure that at their age that “there is always plenty of time later” but time has a habit of slipping by and stuff like this easily gets forgotten. Get it done properly and then you can forget about it (at least for awhile until you later get married and have 5 kids! – at which point you might need to revise your will’s beneficiary list a tad – lol)

    • Haha, all great points, Rob – and thanks for the link. I’ll definitely look into getting something drafted up before the year is over.

  • I need to get my mormon food storage back together. The Church always encouraged us to keep 1 year of food on hand — this is more than enough for a natural disaster, but it’s also a huge asset in unemployment because you can skip grocery trips.

    I’m not worried about earthquakes or fires, but now that I live in Calgary I should be prepared for floods!!

  • I am also single with no kids, and don’t have a will, but I think it’s really important to have one.

    It’s really easy to say “Well my parents know what I want them to do with my money” and “They know I’m an organ donor and that I don’t want to stay on life support”, but when the time comes to actually make those decisions, it’s not so cut and dry. Emotions are involved and it’s difficult to families to actually follow through, even if they know it’s what you want. It’s really important to have it in a legally binding document so that your life is handled the way you want it.

    I’m not saying to not have faith in your family and that they will make the wrong choice, only that it’s a really emotional time and the only way to ensure it really happens the way you want it to is to have it be legally binding. Just some food for thought!

    • Thanks, Ashley! We grew up talking about money on a daily basis, so I do trust that they’d do what I want… but I do think it’s important for me to get a will, anyway, so it’s legally binding.

  • I work in an office that deals with wills & estates everyday. You need a will, no matter how much (or how little) money you have. Think of it as a gift to your family – they are the ones left behind to deal with your estate. If you have a will, it’s much easier for them to take care of everything – something as simple as cancelling a cel phone or auto insurance is difficult without the proper paperwork. (and in my opinion, if you can’t afford the few hundred dollars, buy a kit from Staples, and do it yourself, it’s better than nothing!).

  • Hi Cait. It’s very important to have a Will even when you are single – which I am. I also have the two other documents that I mention. It’s also very important to have a Power of Attorney (which I saw that someone else had suggested) as well as a Health Care Directive (HCD). A HCD is your voice for your health and care when you cannot speak for yourself. Do you want to be kept on life support? If so, how long? Do you want to be resusciated? A HCD lays it all out and there is no pressure for your family/friends during a difficult time.

    I work in the legal field and let me tell you, the few hundred dollars you spent on these 3 documents will make a huge difference to your family/friends if and when a situation comes up that they are need.

    • That’s so scary to think about, Sarah, but you’re right in that it’s necessary – and almost a gift to your family/friends. Thanks for sharing this!

  • Hi Cait ,

    This post was incredibly insightful and I have a few things I will look into now, like a will and double checking my insurance policy! I don’t need to worry about Earthquake where I am, but fire is a concern. The only thing I currently do with important paperwork (including copies of licenses and passport) is keep a scanned copy on USB at my parents in case of a fire. It may not be the real thing, and I might actually take them hard copies as well…..but the USB is another back up copy, just in case.

    In terms of vehicle safety, you can find car safety kits for a decent price that include jumper cables, basic tools, extra fuses, an SOS sign, etc. I also keep a blanket and a flashlight in my car, as well as a tool kit in case I get into an emergency somewhere else and need tools!

    In terms of general safety, it has also just occurred to me that I have the only key to my apartment, aside from my landlord, and I may want to make sure that my emergency contact can get a hold of her and maybe get another key cut for them. I do keep emergency contact numbers in my wallet as well.

    Thanks – this has been very informative and I am going to get more prepared as well!


  • seriously, girl, PREACH. thank you so much for this timely and insightful post (and all the helpful comments from other readers!). i struggle A LOT with *feeling* organized and prepared. i’m not sure that anyone can ever be ready for anything, but i think it’s a fantastic idea to prepare for some possibilities! this post is already turning into a productive to-do list for me!

  • I live in California, which is definitely earthquake territory for sure! Your post reminds me that I need to stock up a bit more for my earthquake preparedness kit. Thanks! :) I am going to work on that ASAP.

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