With this week being National Emergency Preparedness Week, I ask myself – is my family prepared for a damaging earthquake? Not as much as I’d like us to be, and I write about emergency preparedness as part of my job.
As a busy working mom of two active kids, with an equally busy husband, I admit that it’s tough to make emergency preparedness a priority.
If I’m not hounding my children to do their homework or go to bed, driving to and from sports and band practice, doing chores and walking the dog … I’m usually not thinking about putting together a family earthquake kit.
This doesn’t mean I haven’t done anything. We have a large, covered garbage bin on wheels, stocked with jugs of water, canned food, a manual can opener, granola bars, toiletries, Tylenol, and a basic first aid kit. The trick is to figure out where to store it all. I store our supplies in a shed, but a garage or hall closet will work.
I’ve thought about our Golden Retriever too. We have dog food, water, bowls, an extra leash – but I need to make a note on the calendar to replace the “perishable” items. These tasks, and rotating our “human” food and water, are on my to do list once my daughter’s dance season has come to an end next month.
Last summer, we finally purchased a camp stove, fuel and pots, pans and utensils. I even made a point of learning how to use the stove. But honestly, I’ll need a refresher lesson from my teenage son when I need to use it.
My family has been involved with Scouts for years, so we have the benefit of owning an assortment of sleeping bags, tents, ropes and tarps. However, we still need to organize these items in one, easy to access location (versus piled up to the ceiling in a closet). It’s frightening to think we may not to be able to re-enter our home if it’s been damaged by an earthquake. I can only hope a severe earthquake happens in the summer in broad daylight, but chances are it will strike when it’s dark, cold, windy and wet.
Could I do more? Of course. So why don’t I make my children’s and pet’s safety a higher priority than attending my weekly running group? Because deep down I’m in denial that a damaging earthquake is going to happen, even though intellectually I know it could happen anytime and that Greater Victoria has a one in three probability of a damaging earthquake in the next 50 years.
What will it take for me to get more emergency prepared? I find the more I discuss this with my friends and family, the more we realize that we need to get on it. The more I write for this article, the more my heart speeds up. But not everything has to be done all at once. A friend recently said, “I wish I could buy everything pre-assembled in a backpack for each member of my family”. Actually, she can. Ready-made earthquake kits come well-stocked as backpacks, duffel bags and portable barrels with supplies and compact “food” that I think may possibly last a lifetime.
Case lot sales are a great way to stock your family’s earthquake kit. But canned food may get tiresome after the first three days, so I’m heading out next weekend to pick up some freeze-dried meals.
What I find astonishing is how much water my family is going to need to cope for seven or more days after an earthquake. Taking into account that we’ll need water to drink, cook and wash with, we’ll require four litres of water per person PER DAY!
I could write more but I have a husband, two busy kids, a dog and a cat waiting for me… This week, challenge yourself to do just one thing towards putting together your family’s earthquake kit, even if it’s just purchasing a case of bottled water. Then share with us on this blog what you did.
P.S. I encourage you to check out PrepareVictoria.ca. You’ll find some helpful tips on what to include in your family’s earthquake kit. And remember to include some chocolate. I know I’m going to need it. – M.H.
M.H. works closely with the Victoria Emergency Management Agency to raise awareness on what the community can do to be more “emergency prepared”.