Hope for the best, prepare for the worst

Emergency Preparedness Week reminds the public to take steps to ensure the safety of their family should the worst happen.

If disaster struck right now, would you be prepared?

Despite a pair of warnings on the North Island this year, many of us haven’t heeded the danger and are still unprepared to face an emergency.

This week is Emergency Preparedness Week and local coordinators want to use the time to remind North Islanders to take steps to keep themselves and family members safe.

The key point of the message is to take the time now to be proactive in preparing for the worst so that, should the unthinkable happen, we are able to be self-sufficient until help arrives.

The government’s www.getprepared.gc.ca website outlines what you need to know to be prepared to deal with an emergency. It advocates three steps: know the risks, make a plan and get an emergency kit, with the idea of being able to be totally self-reliant for a minimum of 72 hours.

Cori Neilson, Mount Waddington Emergency Program Coordinator, says that help could take longer to arrive on the North Island, owing to our relative remoteness, and to plan accordingly.

With the recent earthquakes and tsunami scares affecting local residents, these risks should come as no surprise. But we face a number of other potential hazards like flooding, prolonged power outages or an industrial accident closing the highway.

An emergency plan takes minutes to make but can save precious time should the worst happen. This is as simple as prearranged meeting points for family, a list of emergency phone numbers and so on.

Make a few photocopies and put them in easy to find places like in work, at home, in the car or by the phone.

The last step is to prepare at least one emergency kit. There can be bought ready made — Monks in Port Hardy has a selection of kits, as does the Red Cross website — or prepared yourself.

A kit should include basic supplies such as water, food, extra keys, flashlight and a first aid kit. In addition, special consideration should be made for infants, those on medications and pet owners. This kit should be somewhere close to the exit of your home so that it can be easily accessed on the way out the door if necessary.

A family vehicle can hold a larger secondary kit with bulkier items like tools or blankets.

In the event of an emergency, the following resources have important information: www.emergencyinfobc.gov.bc.ca (provincial emergency), wcatwc.arh.noaa.gov (tsunami warning), www.drivebc.ca (road conditions), or on twitter: @emergencyinfobc, @rdmw_em, @drivebc_vi.