Getting ready for an emergency

Last week was Emergency Preparedness Week in Ontario. I know this because I won a Facebook contest put on by Sault Ste. Marie Fire Services. A question was posted: “How often does Emergency Management Ontario recommend you check and refresh the items in your emergency kit?” I answered correctly: “Twice a year.”

One doesn’t have to look far in the headlines to see the types of emergencies that we should prepare for. Floods have several areas in states of emergency. House and business fires are up in our city.  Storms seem more erratic and violent. So fire services is asking us to plan ahead and be prepared. The theme of the week was “Are You Ready?”

What was my prize you ask? I won an emergency preparedness kit complete with emergency food rations, packs of emergency purified drinking water, a flashlight, a survival blanket, a whistle, first aid supplies, glow sticks, a rain poncho, feminine hygiene products, a surgical mask, and a pair of rubberized gloves, all kept together in a bright red backpack. It’s surprisingly compact for something that can help manage so many eventualities. Of course, in an evacuation, I’d also want to pack up clothes, shoes, sleeping bags, toiletries, prescriptions, car keys, identification, cash, and a deck of cards.

Fire Services put out a press release asking: “Would you be ready if you received an emergency alert today?” They are referring to “Alert Ready,” Canada’s Emergency Alert system, which broadcasts alerts over the television, radio, and cell phones. (By the way, that was the answer to their subsequent Facebook contest.)

Whether you knew if it was Emergency Preparedness Week or not, the question remains, are you ready? Do you know how to prepare and protect yourself and your family during an emergency?

I, at least, have a general emergency kit quickly available now, but should probably expand my vehicle emergency kit, create a kit for my pets, and work on a family communication plan. Who knows if we’ll have cellphone coverage in case of an emergency, so we need a plan in place to make sure we can find each other and communicate in such a case. At the very least we should define a meeting place, and a backup meeting place if the first one isn’t safe.

The release also says people should know the potential risks that could happen in their hometown. For this, I went to the website. This is sobering reading listing emergencies most likely for this area, from pandemics, power outages, floods, hazardous spills, extreme winter weather, extreme heat, to tornadoes.

From I also am reminded of the importance of making copies of important documents like: “insurance, main identification documents like driver’s licence and passport, birth and marriage certificates, wills” and keeping them in a safe place, and/or sharing copies with family out-of-town.

While we can think that we’ll never need to know the risks, nor have the plans in place, nor make the kits, the fire services contest reminds me that prevention is worth a pound of cure, and that by failing to prepare, one might be preparing to fail.

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