Make Sure You’re Equipped for a B.C. Disaster

The province is due for a devastating earthquake, having an emergency kit prepared is vital to staying safe

Earthquake kits are designed to equip and prepare people for natural disasters or other emergencies. (flickr/Global X)

A magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck Mexico City and the surrounding area on Sept. 19, killing almost 400 people and injuring over 6,000. I was there one year to the day before that quake, and watching the chaos unfold in neighborhoods that I spent time in was haunting. My first thought was, “What if an earthquake like that happens here? Are we ready?”

We all know that the “big one” is inevitable. We’ve been told that we are years overdue for a massive quake. Since elementary school we’ve learned to “drop, cover, and hold on” before evacuating the building as soon as possible. But how prepared would we be at home and in our daily lives in the face of a “megathrust” earthquake?

On the morning of Oct. 19 Kwantlen Polytechnic University participated in The Great British Columbia ShakeOut. It is the province’s biggest earthquake drill, practicing the “drop, cover and hold on” procedure in schools, workplaces, and homes across B.C. It is a reminder that practicing emergency plans can save lives.

I’ve always meant to put together an earthquake emergency kit. Living in a basement suite has caused me a few claustrophobic, panicky moments where I’ve had a sudden urge to go to the store right away and purchase everything I need in the event of an entire house collapsing on me.

Let’s face it, though—once that moment of terror subsides, life gets in the way. Most of us probably don’t have an earthquake kit at home. Even though we’ve been warned, there’s hasn’t been a sizeable earthquake in this area in our lifetime. An earthquake of any significance could still be hundreds of years away, and building a kit can be time-consuming and expensive.

Over and over again, however, we are reminded of the devastation that even moderate earthquakes cause. Look at what happened in Mexico City in 2017, Japan in 2011, and Haiti in 2010. The list goes on. It’s vital that we do as much as we can to prepare ourselves for a disaster, and having an emergency kit at home could be the key to survival.

According to PreparedBC, the province’s resource for emergency preparedness, you should have an earthquake kit available that will supply you and your family with all of the resources you may need for as long as possible because you could be without water, electricity, and heat for days or weeks.

Your at-home emergency supply kit should contain a first aid kit with medications, a battery powered or hand crank radio, a flashlight, a whistle, a cell phone with chargers, local maps, cash, a minimum three-day supply of non-perishable food, a can opener, garbage bags, moist towelettes, plastic ties, a daily four-litre per person water supply lasting at least three days, a dust mask, and seasonal clothing and footwear.

In addition to having a supply kit in your home, you should also have “grab-and-go” supplies in your car or at work, including food, water, cash, and other small emergency items.

You can organize and purchase resources for these kits for yourself or buy them ready-made. Ready-made kits can be purchased directly from redcross.ca for between $84.95 and $169.95, depending on the number of people living in your household.

They say that the only way to predict the future is to create it, so why not ensure that you’re ready for when disaster strikes?

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