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Monday, 24 October 2011

Emergency preparedness - are you taking the right chances?

Last Thursday, BC and numerous states participated in a large scale emergency preparedness event to simulate the impacts of an earthquate in the region. http://www.shakeoutbc.ca/index.html.   530,000 people in BC practiced the drop, cover and hold, or at least learned how to grapple with the first moments of the 'big one'.  In total some 8.9 Million North Americans participated in the exercise

Tragically, just 4 days later, Turkey suffered a 7.2 magnitude earthquake that has flattening communities and killed hundreds of people.  The numbers will grow as at least a 1000 are missing.   We need only look back at Japan and Haiti as other recent examples of large scale events of mass destruction.

Most parts of the country are at risk from some form of natural disaster ranging from fires, floods, tornados, blizzards, ice storms, tsunamis or earthquakes and others, which have the potential to kill, maim and displace people.  Oftentimes the immediate event results in prolonged recovery where more disease and death are not uncommon.

How prepared are you?   The old adage that be prepared for 72 hours before you get help, was actually based upon California planning where it was expected that it would be at least 72 hours before contact would be made, not before help was available.  Plan for a minimum of a week - you will not regret being prepared.

Canada's infrastructure for emergency preparedness has waxed and waned with political stripes and the economy.  Emergencies must be handled at a local level, provinces and federal bodies providing support.  Often, local groups are overwhelmed and the assistance is welcomed if it is available.  

Start with your self and your family.   Develop a plan, and Public Safety Canada has reasonable guidelines to work with at http://www.getprepared.gc.ca/index-eng.aspx 

The scouting movement got it right.  "Be prepared".    Or in the words of a great public health pioneer Louis Pasteur - "Chance favours the prepared mind".

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