Preparation pays in event of emergency

March 24 session in Oak Bay gives information needed in the event of a disaster

Eileen Grant keeps a car kit and fire extinguisher in her trunk as well as regularly carrying a standard go bag. Her home-built kits feature items from cash and copies of critical documents to warm socks and spare shoes.

When Tsunami Preparedness Week sweeps in Eileen Grant will be prepared.

The manager of the Oak Bay Emergency Program is set to keep the community safe by sharing strategies that range from go-bags to simply knowing your neighbours.

“Throughout the year we do public sessions to help people get prepared for emergency situations,” she said. “We take an all-hazard approach.”

She shares with residents how to prepare and plan ahead for situations from a simple hours-long power outage or damaging wind storm to tsunami and earthquakes during a session March 24 at Windsor Pavilion.

“We have a broad presentation that we try to hit a little bit on everything,” Grant said.  “We’ll spend a little extra time talking about tsunamis and what the hazards are in Oak Bay.”

Tsunami Preparedness Week is March 22 to 28.

“It’s a hazard that may affect Oak Bay but I’d be far more concerned if I lived in Port Renfrew,” Grant said. “By the time a tsunami hits here, we’re anticipating it would be like an extra high tide, a king tide. Where there will be some risk, is if there’s already a king tide. … We have to pay attention and we have to educate people,”

Foremost in residents’ minds, people tend to come ready and willing to talk earthquake readiness. Volunteers with  Oak Bay Emergency Preparedness take full advantage of that mindset.

“If you’re prepared for an earthquake, you’ll be prepared for anything,” Grant explained.

In 2011 under the grey cloud of H1N1 they promoted the ‘flu buddy’. When walloped with influenza you don’t even feel like getting dressed, let alone going out only to infect others. They encouraged residents to have a friend to call who would run out for tea, prescriptions or crackers – and vice versa. “Remember this is a two-way street,” Grant said.

The ‘flu buddy’ provides a platform for the ideas they promote now.

“It is all about helping neighbours and neighbours knowing each other,” Grant said. “People have the impression the government will come in and save the day and that’s not the case. … We talk a lot about community. We talk a lot about the importance of helping each other. If we can do those things, we’re well on the way to recover after a disaster.”

The sessions are all about providing framework, foundation and starting conversations. This interactive session offers detailed information on how to identify risks, be personally prepared to be self-sufficient for a minimum of seven days after a major emergency or disaster and begin the recovery process. Grant doesn’t just talk the talk, she’s always ready.

“I’ve put together several grab-and-go kits, and I’ve put together several shelter-in-place kits,” she said. “I’ve spent under $100 and I’ve put together three or four of each kit. I found it all around the house.”

Those two are the usual kits they promote, though nowadays they also suggest a car kit and a pet kit.

“Those are two big things we’ve added because if you show up with Fido and no food and water, it’s going to be an issue for everyone, including Fido.”

“We don’t have the capacity to take care of all that might need taking care of, even in Oak Bay.”

The recommended pet kit includes nonperishable pet food, manual can opener, bottled water, dishes, collar/leash/pet carrier, waste supplies, towels and blankets, medications and vaccination records, current pet tags and a photo with the owner.

A vehicle kit is in addition to a grab-and-go and should include items such as booster cables, equipment required to change a tire, a tow line, flashlight and batteries, maps, first aid kit, fire extinguisher, basic tools, gloves and shoes.

“I always have my black bag. I’m good to go for 72 hours if I have my black bag,” she said, admitting three days of water are not included in that pack. Her trunk, however, has a fire extinguisher, grab-and-go and car kit. As OBEP manager she also maintains the equipment to start up a reception centre on the fly without having to head into the office.

“It’s not complicated, it just requires some planning and some thought,” Grant said. “If you’re prepared, you’re much calmer.”

The emergency preparation info session is free, but pre-register to guarantee a seat. Session runs March 24 from 7 to 9 p.m. at 2451 Windsor Rd. Call 250-592-9121 or email obep@oakbay.ca to register.

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