This week B.C.’s auditor general Russ Jones released his report on how prepared – or unprepared – the province is in the event of a catastrophic earthquake. Not surprisingly, and echoing a 1997 report from the same office, Jones finds neither the province or Emergency Management B.C. is adequately ready for such a disaster.
The province and agencies may not be prepared and must take immediate steps to correct this situation, but so do we as individuals and private companies.
All of us must recognize that a disaster, and not just an earthquake, could affect us at any time. A major snowstorm or windstorm, such as we’ve seen in recent years, could shut down the region for days. A hazardous waste spill is always a concern and the recent landslide in Washington state is simply one more example of an emergency that could befall us.
Common sense and local emergency preparedness programs tells us we need to be ready for seven days without support during an emergency. This means having adequate food, water and shelter as a bare minimum for a week. Other groups recommend more; the Mormon church suggests that members have at least a three-month supply of food on hand.
We need to ask ourselves what else we need for survival. Do we have cash on hand if banking services are disrupted? Do we have extra, charged batteries for cellphones and other mobile devices that we depend on so much these days?
We must also ensure that our supplies are easily accessible during any emergency scenario. This could include being somewhere other than at home during such a situation. Do you have an emergency kit in your car or at your office? If you are a business owner, what do you have in place to support your staff if they are unable to leave the premises for several days?
While it is our responsibility as individuals, families and businesses to ensure that we are adequately prepared for a difficult and unexpected situation, it is also mandatory that the provincial government and the appropriate departments be prepared as well.
All of our lives could depend on it.