Being prepared for an emergency can save lives, heartache

When an emergency happens such as an accident, health emergency, fire or a death, personal information must be readily available.

Calling for emergency personnel

Knowing where you are is essential to getting help quickly.

In a rural setting, the land location needs to be given first, then provide specific directions including identifiable features that may make it easier to confirm your location. Post the information by all phones and place a copy in every vehicle, including the tractor and combine.

In an urban setting, know the address and provide the cross street or other specific directions and identifiable features of your home.

All children, even those as young as three or four years old, should memorize their land location or address and know what to do in case of an emergency. If you have a babysitter or caregiver, be sure they know how to find this information.

Medical emergency

In a medical emergency, a list of medications, health conditions, past illnesses, procedures and physician’s name can provide emergency personnel with information that could be lifesaving.

The City of Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service offers an Emergency Response Information Kit (ERIK) to document the information that is needed by emergency personnel.

They recommend that the Health Information Form be completed and a copy placed on your refrigerator. Another copy should be carried with you at all times. Even in a situation where you take yourself to the hospital, this information will be required.

Personal information that could be included: your complete name, gender, address with postal code, phone number, birth date, provincial health number and other health insurance information.

Include the name and phone number of your family doctor.

Also provide phone numbers for two emergency contacts, such as family members or neighbours, and their relationship to you.

Prepare a brief medical history but especially highlight heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, allergies and breathing problems. If there are other medical concerns, provide details.

A list of all current medications, with the dosage and frequency, is essential for effective treatment in an emergency. Also identify where the medications are stored and the pharmacy used. Include on this list any vitamins and herbal products you take as well.

Date the form so emergency personnel will know if it’s current.

Other useful information to include with this form are your living will or health-care directive and organ donation information card.

Place the information in an envelope, label it emergency information in large bold letters and place on your refrigerator door.

Access the City of Winnipeg ERIK Health Information Form here. (PDF format)

Critical illness and death

Preparing for death is never easy but it is inevitable and when we die our loved ones will need to sort through personal and financial details.

Harold Empey and his wife, Betty, had gathered their information into a “Just In Case” file and had even discussed their wishes with their children. When Betty passed away, the information they had prepared was a tremendous help and comfort for their family.

Unfortunately, their oldest son died a short while later, without having gathered this information. It was a difficult job for his family to deal with.

As a result of both of these experiences, Harold has developed a “just-in-case” binder that provides an outline of information that should be gathered, discussed and maintained in preparation of your death. For a copy, call Harold Empey at 306-244-4954.

Within the binder, there is information on the selection and duties of an executor, the importance of having a will and why to appoint a power of attorney.

Harold skillful brings up discussion items like how will your personnel items be distributed fairly among family members, how to downsize, de-clutter and prepare for the loss of your life partner.

Gathering the personal and family financial information, and documents is a large part of the just-in-case binder.

The Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association Inc. has developed what it calls a virtual shoebox guide for recording important personal and household financial information.

Fill out the form and keep it in a safe place. To access the virtual shoebox guide, go to, click the retiring soon section and then the money section.

Emergency information should be updated at least annually. For security purposes it is best not to keep all of your account numbers on a computer. Print off updated copies and replace ones in your binder or emergency envelope.

Most importantly, let your executor or other family members know where your information is kept. Keep the memory stick in your safety deposit box along with all original legal documents such as wills, separation agreements, passports etc. to keep them safe from fire or theft.

Just in Case information list

Maintain a list of the following information and note where documents are located.

Family: your name, spouse, and dependent children, extended family members, phone numbers and birthdays for all

Important documents: birth certificate, social insurance, driver’s licence number, passport number, adoption papers, prenuptial agreements, marriage certificate, separation agreement, divorce and custody papers, citizenship papers, income tax returns, will and power of attorney documents

Real estate: address and legal description of all properties and mortgage documents

Liabilities: loans, debts, amounts and who owed, loyalty and credit cards names, numbers and user identification

Accounts: utility accounts and numbers, computer, internet and Facebook accounts, email addresses, user names and passwords

Advisers: financial, broker, insurance and legal advisers’ names and contact information

Financial institutions: addresses and account numbers, PIN numbers and online banking identification

Investments: GISs, bonds, stocks, mutual funds, segregated funds, RRSPs, TFSAs, RESPs, and RRIFs, account numbers and beneficiaries

Insurance policies: life, group, health, accident, auto, liability, disability, property and casualty, policy numbers, contacts and beneficiaries

Locations: of safety deposit box and key, safe and combination

At death: organ donation directions, funeral and burial wishes and obituary information

Betty Ann Deobald is a home economist from Rosetown, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. Contact:

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