Nanaimo’s residents who prepare for a major earthquake will be ready for anything.
During Emergency Preparedness Week (May 7-13) the city wants residents to prepare for the worst nature can throw at Nanaimo, a major earth tremor.
“What we’re focusing on this week is education and encouraging or engaging people to purchase or prepare an emergency kit,” said Karen Lindsay, city emergency program manager. “If they already have one, we want them to check them.”
During Emergency Preparedness Week, a national annual event co-ordinated by Public Safety Canada, 30 city staff have performed an emergency operation centre exercise and are also sharing information with residents on how to be ready should disaster strike.
“If you just look at what’s happening around the country right now, although flooding is not high on our radar, HAZMAT – hazardous materials and hazardous material spills – is and severe weather and earthquakes,” Lindsay said. “If you prepare for that earthquake situation, you’ll be prepared for any of these emergencies that can occur in the community.”
There are a number of online resources people can turn to to learn how to be disaster-ready, such as the City of Nanaimo’s emergency supplies checklist and emergency preparedness tips and procedures, which include information about evacuation routes, grab ‘n’ go kits, the city’s emergency call alert system, tips for people with cognitive or mobility issues, hearing impairment and other guides.
Lindsay also recommends visit the B.C. government’s Prepared B.C. web page.
“The province has put out excellent educational materials and videos that our citizens can go on and it takes you through the process step by step and it tells you all the information that you need to know,” Lindsay said.
The city also sends out advisories on Twitter at @NanaimoFire and @cityofnanaimo and Lindsay recommends people sign up for the City of Nanaimo’s emergency call alert.
Lindsay said people also need to plan for their pets.
“That’s often one of those things we see – if you have to evacuate, for example – where people won’t leave because of their pets … so having all of that stuff ready for their pets is very important,” she said.
People who don’t want to assemble survival kits can purchase pre-made kits from GetMyKit.ca, a private company operating in Lantzville since October.
Chad McGillivary, company owner, offers survival kits packed with food, water, emergency shelter, first aid, cooking supplies, knives, rope, soap, candles and other essentials to get people through the 72 hours it might take for emergency responders to render assistance if roads, bridges and other infrastructure become impassable. The kits have a five-year shelf life.
“We focus on taking that thought process out of it for the consumer … It’s ready to go for you. It’s everything you need to survive,” McGillivary said. “You can grab this kit and be outside and you’ve got … there’s a ton of items in these kits. It’s everything.”
The company also offers free disaster preparedness planning materials families can use to predetermine what they will do rather than reacting to decisions made under pressure.
Jenn Houtby-Ferguson owns Nanaimo-based Twist Consulting. Her company helps businesses plan for post-disaster continuity of operations.
“It’s more from a business planning continuity perspective,” said Houtby-Ferguson. “What should we do? Systems do we need to have in place? What physical products or structures do we need to have in place and then, staff training.”