How to survive disaster is a valuable lesson

Emergency preparedness is on people’s minds these days.

That seems to be evidenced by the popularity of the Strathcona Regional District’s emergency preparedness seminars last Thursday.

Emergency preparedness is on people’s minds these days.

That seems to be evidenced by the popularity of the Strathcona Regional District’s emergency preparedness seminars last Thursday.

More than 50 people attended the evening session held at the Campbell River Search and Rescue building in Willow Point and the morning session was just as full.

Seminar presenter Howie Siemens was happy to see people taking responsibility for emergency planning.

“Emergency planning is a shared responsibility,” Siemens said. “This is about you taking care of yourself as well.

“How do you become better prepared?”

The theme of the night was taking personal responsibility for your own survival in an emergency for the first few hours or days.

“If you’re well prepared, you may not have to depend on us in the first few hours and that would be a good thing,” Siemens said.

A good thing because there are 57 potential hazards facing British Columbia, although last week’s seminar focused on a handful of the largest and most likely events: earthquakes, fires, interface fires (forest fires encroaching on urban areas), tsunamis and severe weather.

Not surprisingly, given the devastating earthquake in Japan, the topic most on people’s minds is the threat of tsunami but there was reassuring news on that front.

“Our area, Campbell River, has a very low risk of a tsunami,” Siemens said.

Speculation about “big event” earthquakes refers to the west coast of Vancouver Island where two geological plates interact undersea.

An earthquake of magnitude 7 or larger raises the threat of a tsunami on the west coast of the Island. On the east coast of the Island, any tsunami will have been diminished by hitting the west coast and any residual wave will have had its force dissipated by distance and by the maze of islands in Johnstone Strait.

The biggest tsunami possibility would be caused by a “mechanical” wave generated by a segment of rock shifted by an earthquake on the mainland on the east coast of Georgia Strait.

How big that kind of wave would be is impossible to know at this stage, Siemens said.

But the threat of tsunami is low and emergency plans will more likely have to respond to the other hazards.

Emergency preparedness focuses on three steps that will get you through the first 72 hours of an event.

Those steps are:

Know the risks – Know the hazards your region faces; earthquakes in B.C., blizzards in Nunavut.

Make a plan – A plan will help you and your family know what to do in case of an emergency, including if family members are apart at the time of an event.

Get an emergency kit – Round up some basic supplies to be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours and keep them in an easily-accessible backpack.

For more details on this topic visit Public Safety Canada’s website: GetPrepared.ca; the Provincial Emergency Program’s website: www.pep.bc.ca; or contact Campbell River Emergency Social Services Team: campbellriveress@gmail.con or call 250-923-0359.