You have moved to Canada, a safe and stable haven compared to many other countries. Most newcomers’ priorities navigate around finding a job and a good school for the children, settling in a friendly and safe community and learning how to adapt to this, their new home.
EP (Emergency Preparedness) comes last in the above list, and sadly, many times doesn’t even get there.
Why to be prepared? The first reason is that EP can be fun and strengthen your family and community. Many studies have shown how well prepared neigbourghoods, families and individuals do much better during emergencies than people who have not taken the time to do so. Also, according to Public Safety Canada, individual citizens share a responsibility to be prepared for disasters and contribute to community resiliency.
Emergencies and disasters tend to affect certain groups more than others. Historically these groups are: minorities and immigrants, children, women, the elder, the disable and pets.
Canada’s potential nature-related disasters include earthquakes, winter storms, floods, wildfires, tsunamis, hurricanes and landslides, among others. With Climate Change looming, the chance of these events increasing in both strength and recurrence grows higher. Other disasters influenced by Climate Change that may affect people in Canada are droughts (that affect the production and distribution of food and clean water) and temporary resources scarcity.
Other emergencies are the result of lack of awareness of our own home, workplace and neighbourhood risks and hazards. Some of these are: house and neighbourhood fires, drowning, falls, etc.
Canada has a fairly organized Emergency Response infrastructure run by both staff and volunteers at local, provincial and federal levels. However, it has been demonstrated in the past, that when a disaster strikes, these organizations (from firemen to rescue teams, from ambulances to emergency social services teams) may be overwhelmed and will prioritize those in bigger trouble first, which means that in many cases, your family or your whole neighbourhood may need to survive on your own for anything from 72 hours to a couple of weeks.
Where to start
For more information on how to create a family plan, what to include in an emergency kit and how to respond when exposed to different disaster scenarios, please visit: http://www.getprepared.gc.ca/index-eng.aspx and http://embc.gov.bc.ca/em/hazard_preparedness/AllHazards_WEB.pdf
What is a “grab-and-go” kit?
Grab-and-go kit is a bag or a backpack you prepare for each member of the family (including babies and pets) and allows them to leave quickly in the event of an emergency that asks for evacuation.
It has to be easy and comfortable to carry
What to include?
The emergency kit:
The emergency kit is different from the “grab-and-go” kit. It is usually bigger and includes things for the whole family. Its purpose is to supply for the basic needs the family may have in case they have to stay at home for 72 hours or more, probably isolated, without electricity or water. Emergency Kits may also be needed at work (in case a disaster strikes when you are at the office) and in your family’s car( in case your car is stuck in a snow storm, etc.)
You can start your emergency kit by reviewing what you already have at home, making a list of what you need and buying one item each time you do your grocery shopping.
Considerations when putting together an emergency kit:
What to include:
Items are similar to those in the grab-and-go-kits, but you may also include:
For more information visit: Get Prepared at http://www.getprepared.gc.ca/index-eng.aspx and How to be prepared for Emergencies at http://www.redcross.ca/article.asp?id=20162&tid=078