The Importance of Being Emergency Ready
Let’s say the lights go out. Your entire neighbourhood is without power. You manage to find your flashlight, but the batteries are dead. You don’t know when your municipality will restore power – how will you cope? Will all your food in the refrigerator spoil? Could the water supply be contaminated? How will you contact or locate your family?
An emergency can take various forms – from a house fire, a chemical spill, or a major earthquake. By definition, an emergency is a serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation that requires immediate action. Imagine the fear and anxiety you could feel given the extremely disruptive nature of losing your most basic utilities.
While most people recognize the importance of emergency preparedness, not everyone has actually taken the steps necessary to get themselves and their family prepared.
Between the daily grind of work, and shuffling children to extracurricular activities, it’s no surprise that many of us neglect to plan for something that may or may not happen in the near or distant future.
Just last year, BC’s auditor general released a report noting that the province isn’t as prepared as it could be for a natural disaster; and only 5% of Vancouverites say they feel well prepared for an earthquake.
While the government has a critical role to play in emergency preparedness, EP is actually a shared responsibility among all levels of society. And because all emergencies occur at the local level, preparedness begins with individuals and their community. BC’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Suzanne Anton, recently stated that “emergency preparedness starts with individual British Columbians and our families”. Also, the 2013 World Disasters Report points to how research has shown that “local communities save the most lives following a disaster. Communities themselves have always been the real first responders.”
If you’re not prepared, an emergency can quickly escalate into a disaster. If you are prepared, you’ll get through the disaster far better than those who aren’t.
There are many misconceptions about emergencies:
- Emergencies don’t last long. Actually, emergencies can last 72 hours or more.
- Emergencies don’t happen in my neighborhood. An emergency can happen anytime, anywhere, be it a house fire, an earthquake, or a flood.
- There are a lot of emergencies I just can't prepare for. Experts advise that by preparing for an earthquake, you actually become prepared for most natural disasters.
- Preparing takes too much time. Actually, an emergency plan is doable in as little as an hour.
With that in mind, the team here at St. John Ambulance BC/Yukon has put together a guide to help you and your loved ones get emergency ready. This guide will help you break down the EP process into bite-sized chunks that you can personalize, save and refer back to. Step-by-step, we’ll help you create a household EP plan, prepare an EP kit, and we’ll share how you can stay informed to confidently manage an emergency, and in the process, secure some piece of mind for you and your family.
Our emergency ready resources are for you if:
- You've had "Create an emergency plan" on your ‘to do’ list for months (or years?);
- You want to become more self-sufficient;
- You watched the suffering after extreme weather disasters like the BC wildfires, the Alberta floods, or the Toronto ice storm and you want to protect your family with a plan;
- Your family depends on you and you want to be there for them.
Emergency preparedness is a lot like buying insurance. In fact, EP IS insurance. It means that you can take some matters into your own hands, and possibly prevent the most unimaginable of losses. EP is about taking responsibility for your own safety and well-being to ensure the best possible outcome - for you and your family.
So you have a choice to make. You can either make a plan, or choose to approach a possible emergency by winging it. And it’s really in everyone’s best interest – especially your own – that you don’t treat an emergency like an improv class.
So are you up for getting emergency ready?
Here’s the breakdown:
- Know the Risks
- Make a Plan
- Get a Kit
For your convenience, we've also compiled a handy downloadable checklist that covers all the information you will need to make an emergency preparedness plan.
Remember, the better prepared you are, the better you can help your family, as well as others in your community.
So spread the word and get your family (and all your friends!) involved so you can be emergency ready.