If there’s one thing people can learn from this year’s Great B.C. ShakeOut drill, it’s that emergency preparedness begins in the home.
“That’s the foundation — personal preparedness,” Bill Elsner, emergency program coordinator for the Sunshine Coast Regional District, said Tuesday. “As much as people say they don’t like government doing things for them, the first thing people ask me is what am I going to do for them” if a full-blown emergency does take place.
“I don’t have the capacity to provide food and shelter to everyone on the Coast. If you can stay home, stay home,” Elsner said.
Even during an earthquake, he said, “your home is probably the safest place to be. Stay off the road.”
The Great B.C. ShakeOut, set for 10:17 a.m. on Oct. 17, is an annual opportunity for individuals, families and organizations to review their personal preparedness.
That means designing a plan to address one’s specific needs, making sure potentially hazardous objects are secured and not blocking exits, and stocking up with at least one week’s supply of food and water.
A grab-and-go kit is also a must, Elsner said, in case people have to leave their homes or are stuck in their vehicles when an emergency occurs.
The kit — which should be kept in the vehicle — could include spare glasses, extra medication, food and water, a change of clothes, blankets, flashlight, portable radio and spare batteries, he said.
“A radio is really important, because the way people are going to get information is the local radio station.”
Pet owners should also make arrangements to have spare food, a leash, a carrier and a photo of their pets in easy reach.
“If they have to evacuate, they should bring their pets,” Elsner said.
As the centrepiece of the ShakeOut event, participants practise a drill to “drop, cover and hold on,” described as an earthquake-safe action to protect people from falling furniture and flying objects that can become projectiles during ground shaking.
To make the drill more realistic and informative, participants can download sound effects and safety information to play during their drill from www.shakeoutbc.ca, where they can also register.
As of Wednesday, almost 2,000 Sunshine Coast participants had registered for this year’s event, including 1,500 from the school district and 255 from local government.
More than 21-million people worldwide have registered so far this year, led by California where almost nine million have signed up.