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Critical Emergency Preparedness Tips

Normac recently sponsored a Strata Educational Seminar hosted by CCI Vancouver about Disaster Planning and Emergency Preparedness. The seminar was presented by Jackie Koosterboer, author of My Earthquake Preparedness Guide and an Emergency Planner at the City of Vancouver.

According to the Auditor General of BC in a recent Catastrophic Earthquake Preparedness report, experts estimate that there is a 12% chance of a “catastrophic earthquake” hitting BC within the next 50 years and the price tag on that could equal as much as $75 billion. While the Province of BC and City of Vancouver have been proactive to prepare bridges and emergency responsiveness to an earthquake, there is much that each of us can do to prepare our own homes and families in the case of a catastrophic event.

Attendees were given 10 tips to prepare their own family emergency plan.

  1. Identify hazards – Determine what different types of hazards could affect each of us and the areas we live in and figure out how to prepare for them. This could mean earthquakes, tsunamis, fires, power outages, weather events, etc.
  2. Select a family meeting place – It is important to designate a location that is not your home for everyone to meet at in the case of an emergency. Ideally it is within walking distance for people. This way if you are unable to contact one another, you know in advance where you can find your loved ones.
  3. Determine an out of area contact – During an emergency, it is prudent to have a designated, out of area contact person who each of your family members can reach and provide updates to. It can sometimes be easier to contact people long distance as local lines may all be tied up. Using other forms of communication could also be useful, such as text messaging, or social media. Facebook has a safety check feature where individuals in an area impacted by catastrophe can mark themselves or others as safe.
  4. Prepare and store emergency kits – There are various types of kits that you can have. A grab and go kit such as a back pack is useful in the case of a fire as you can quickly grab pre-packed essentials such as clothes, medications, ID, and cash. Home kits will be much larger and require more items in case you are stuck in your home without power or running water. Other kits include car kits, school and work kits, first aid kits, and pet kits.
  5. Have enough food and water available – Canned food items that require little to no preparation are ideal and don’t forget a can opener. The recommended amount of water required per person, per day is 4L and you should have enough to last each person three days. For a family of four, that’s 48L of water!
  6. Prepare your home for an emergency – Securing heavy objects such as book cases will prevent them from flying across the room. Securing the hot water tank can prevent a gas leak from occurring. Attaching door fasteners to your cupboards or moving heavy objects to lower cabinets will prevent further damage and injury. Additionally, knowing that your alarms and extinguishers are working and where all your shut-offs are located is imperative.
  7. Work preparedness – Consider what you will do if an emergency happens while you’re at work. For example, do you have supplies, or how will you get home?
  8. Plan for the vulnerable population – Have a plan in place to ensure that your children, elderly family, or people with disabilities looked after. Do you have another adult known to your child’s daycare who can pick them up in an emergency? How will your 4th floor neighbour in a wheelchair get to safety if the elevator is broken? Discuss these in advance so that you can act quickly in an emergency.
  9. Same for pets – Your pets are part of the family so don’t leave them behind! Have grab and go kits prepared for each animal that include food and water, a leash, blanket, and any vet records.
  10. Practice – Practice your plan so you and your family know what to do. Know your evacuation routes. Know your meeting place. Know your out of area contact’s phone number. Have regular drills and check the expiry dates on your kits each time the clocks change in the Spring and Fall.


So, how prepared are you in the case of an emergency? You can view Jackie’s full presentation here. You can make your own at home emergency preparedness kits or order them online. Whichever you prefer, make sure you have necessary items available and accessible, and a plan in place to protect yourselves and the ones you love.


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