Prepare for The Big One with Neighbourhood Emergency Preparedness workshops

Are you prepared for an emergency?

Are you prepared for an emergency?

Desmond Rodenbour will be carrying dozens of extra chairs into a Kerrisdale community centre room, because evermore people show up for his emergency workshops.

Although a 4.5 magnitude earthquake hit Haida Gwaii over the last weekend of February, Daniel Stevens, Vancouver’s director of emergency management said his presentation of the Neighbourhood Emergency Preparedness Program at the Park Board on Monday, Feb. 25 was incidental.

“It’s business as usual,” he said. “Earthquakes happen all the time.” Incidentally, there was another earthquake on B.C.’s north coast last week. But emergency workshops did see a spike in attendance after the larger earthquakes in Haiti and Japan.

Next Kerrisdale workshop on Tuesday, March 19 aimed at apartment dwellers

Eric Price, assistant programmer at Kerrisdale community centre said the courses have filled up quickly in the last few months, with around 40 people per evening. More workshops will be held throughout March in several community centres.

Attendees will learn practical tips to “be prepared without being scared” by volunteer instructors like Desmond Rodenbour, who was in Chile during the 2010 quake and impressed by the local emergency management.

Have kits for your home, car, kids, pets and workplace

An emergency food & water home kit contains water, canned food, biscuits, peanut butter, cutlery, a fuel stove and matches.

An emergency food & water home kit contains water, canned food, biscuits, peanut butter, cutlery, a fuel stove and matches.

Having a battery-driven or hand-crank radio is essential, as phone communication might collapse in an emergency. All radio stations will broadcast updates about the nearest shelters. The city is equipped with 26 basic food reception centres, each containing supplies for around 200 people. A total of 5,200 people, mainly those who do not have a place to stay, could be assisted by emergency staff.

“You’ll need food supplies for at least seven days,” said Rodenbour. While water supply – four litres per person and day – may not be problematic in Vancouver, make sure to have enough energy bars and canned food ready, but avoid salty foods and a diet that will be hard on your stomach. Whereas the shaking may last only minutes, the greatest misery happens in the aftermath, said Rodenbour, especially when people run out of basic supplies.

Have emergency kits ready for your home, workplace and car and don’t forget to put a copy of your ID in the kits. Add family photos and a comforting toy to children’s kits.

It’s also handy to discuss a central family meeting point. The middle of a treeless park may be the safest place to meet.

Don't forget to prep a kit for Max & Fido, or they might turn feral!

Don’t forget to prep a kit for Max & Fido, or they might turn feral!

“The greatest misconception is thinking you are safe standing in a door frame during an earthquake,” Rodenbour said. Rather, lean against a wall or duck under a table and cover your head. Stay away from windows.

Try to stay calm. “Panic is contagious,” said Rodenbour. And last but not least, animal lovers, beware! Stay away from lonely pets, as cats and dogs can grow feral after only 82 hours without their owner.

Photos: Courtesy of Neighbourhood Emergency Preparedness Program (NEPP) Reported by Katja De Bock


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