As part of Emergency Preparedness Week, British Columbians are encouraged to take three simple steps to prepare for disasters and provide for the safety and comfort of their families and loved ones - know the risks, make a plan, and get a kit.
Emergency Preparedness Week takes place from May 4-10, 2014. During this Canada-wide awareness week, events are taking place throughout British Columbia to increase the capacity of individuals and families, businesses, schools, governments and industry to resist the effects of a major disaster.
Encouraging personal preparedness is one piece of a multi-pronged approach being undertaken by EMBC to improve the provincial response to a catastrophic earthquake. Also underway is a provincewide stakeholder consultation on earthquake preparedness.
The consultation, chaired by Henry Renteria, will be used to inform a long-term plan for enhancing catastrophic earthquake preparedness. More than a dozen communities in B.C. will be locations for regional consultation meetings in the coming months including Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Metro Vancouver, Victoria, Nanaimo, Port Alberni, Courtenay, Port McNeill, Terrace, Prince Rupert, the Village of Queen Charlotte on Haida Gwaii, and Kelowna. Stakeholders in other areas of B.C. will have the opportunity to participate in meetings via teleconference.
Attorney General and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton -
“During emergencies like an earthquake, everyone has a role to play in public safety. It starts with individuals and families being prepared to take care of their own basic needs for a minimum of the first 72 hours. During Emergency Preparedness Week, I challenge British Columbians to take action and get prepared. Our government also has a role to play and we are continuing those efforts through our comprehensive earthquake consultations.”
Henry Renteria, chair of the Earthquake Consultation -
“We know from experience that during an emergency the first person to come and offer help is likely to be a family member or neighbour. Knowing what disasters to be aware of, how you will re-connect with loved ones, and being able to meet your families’ unique needs until help arrives - these things make a big difference when the unimaginable happens.”
- The theme of Emergency Preparedness Week 2014 is “Know the risks.” Although the consequences of disasters can be similar, knowing the risks specific to communities and regions can help people better prepare.
- Making a plan will help families know what to do in an emergency, where they will go and how they will re-connect. Putting together an emergency plan is quick and easy and can take less than 20 minutes.
- During an emergency, everyone will need some basic supplies. People may need to get by without power or tap water. Be prepared to be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours in an emergency. Most people have many of the items they need to assemble an emergency preparedness kit in their homes.
- The chair of B.C.’s Earthquake Consultation, Henry Renteria, previously held the positions of director of California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and the director of the City of Oakland Office of Emergency Services.
- While in Oakland, he managed the city's response to the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. He was also in Japan in 1995 when the Kobe earthquake struck. He remained in Japan for 10 days and personally witnessed the response and early recovery efforts.
- Earthquake consultation locations were chosen in order to allow neighbouring local governments and First Nations in those areas most vulnerable to catastrophic earthquakes to come together and discuss issues, priorities and opportunities for seismic preparedness.
- Renteria will report back to government by the end of 2014 with recommendations for enhancing and refining a long-term earthquake preparedness plan and informing long-term preparedness priorities.
Learn why it’s important to store enough water for cooking, drinking, cleaning and personal hygiene during an emergency, visit: http://www.emergencyinfobc.gov.bc.ca/campaigns/emergency-preparedness-week-2014.html
Learn about putting together an emergency plan and preparing an emergency kit, visit:
A backgrounder follows.
Government Communications and Public
Ministry of Justice
BACKGROUNDER Personal plans and preparedness: where to start
Emergency preparedness is a shared responsibility that begins at home with an individual responsibility to know the risks, make a plan and get an emergency kit. For many, one kit is not enough. British Columbians are urged to consider grab-and-go bags for work and in the trunk of the car, and more fulsome kits at home to help be self-sustainable for a minimum of 72 hours.
The things you sometimes forget to consider:
- Emergency plans are about deciding in advance where you would go and who you would call, how you will reunite with family members if separated and how you will travel or evacuate if primary transportation routes are impacted or impassable in a disaster.
- It’s important to consider, for instance, what happens if an earthquake takes place during work hours, versus on a weekend or during the night.
- Extended family members, friends and neighbours with special care needs or vulnerabilities, like the elderly or disabled, should also be part of your plan.
- Food and water supplies are recognized staples, but a toothbrush and the basics for ensuring hygiene and sanitation contribute significantly to coping psychologically.
- Likewise, children need to keep busy and feel comforted, so a deck of cards, family photographs or a teddy bear can offer emotional support.
- Pets also need supplies including food dishes and leashes, or means of containment.
- Have emergency and out-of-province contact information, as well as copies of important papers as part of your kit or secured with out-of-province contacts.
- Medications are important to include since pharmacies may not be operating, as are spare glasses and appropriate footwear in case you need to travel by foot.
- Simply storing your camping gear near your emergency supplies helps ensure cooking and lodging and some of the other essentials are at hand.
- Consider the portability of supplies if you need to evacuate to a safer location. For some, a garbage can on wheels is a feasible solution.
While there is much to think about, the scope of planning shouldn’t paralyze us into inaction. The best foot forward begins with the ensuring the basics and you can get a list of what to pack or purchase from EmergencyInfoBC.gov.bc.ca or by visiting: www.getprepared.gc.ca
Government Communications and Public
Ministry of Justice