I love my little nest. Not to say that I don't enjoy travel, or a good outing. It's just that I also really enjoy being home. I spend a lot of time feathering my nest so it is cozy, clean, and pleasant to be in. And so, I take any threat to my happy little home seriously, and try to be prepared.
By now you should know that early Saturday morning, an 8.8 magnitude earthquake occurred in Chile. In addition to the death and destruction it caused in Chile, it also triggered a tsunami with the potential to threaten other countries situated around the Pacific Ocean.
As I read about the events on CBC I quickly learned that coastal British Columbia was under advisory for a lower grade tsunami. (An advisory is the lowest level of warning for a tsunami.) After an initial freak out (no one likes to hear the word "tsunami" no matter what the threat level) I realized how lucky I was to be situated here. Thanks to our geographic situation, if a tsunami hit the coast, the water level here would be very low.
And so, I calmed myself down and decided to do something practical. I made a plan. Plans are my friends. No matter how minimal the threat may be compared to other areas, weather warnings should always be taken seriously. The article I had read said that persons living in coastal areas should stay away from areas such as beaches and marinas. So, even though my house is quite a distance from these areas, it is still in a low lying "tsunami zone" meaning that flooding could occur if the waves were large enough. To be safe, I made arrangements for my dogs and I to go to an area at a higher elevation during the time the tsunami could occur. When we left, we took something with us; our basic emergency kit.
After watching the devastation in areas such as New Orleans, Indonesia and Thailand, and more recently Haiti and Chile, emergency preparedness has become a household word. Emergency kits and plans, however, are one of those things that everyone says they're going to get but rarely do. A few years ago we decided to do more than talk about it and started preparing.
Get Prepared , the government of Canada's website on emergency preparedness, is an excellent resource. It describes clearly the three steps Canadians need to take to be prepared for an emergency (They are; Know the Risks; Have a Plan; Get a Kit).
Know the Risks means that different areas have different risk factors. For example,our area is at risk for flooding and tsunamis. Back East, hurricanes, tropical storms, wind, and severe winter storms were risk factors. Some parts of Canada experience forest fires frequently. So it is prudent for people to be familiar with the kind of risks they could potentially face in their area. If you are relocating, check Get Prepared to find out what the risk factors are in your new locale.
Make a Plan means just that, decide what you are going to do in case of an emergency. This may sound obvious but how many of you know exactly what to do if disaster strikes? The thing about emergencies is that they aren't considerate; they don't wait for everyone to be home, bags packed, with a full tank of gas. They don't consider the elderly, latch key kids, and persons with physical challenges. They just rush in and cause chaos. Which is why it is so important for each household to have a plan for their specific requirements. Having a plan also means knowing what safety precautions to take and how to execute them. I was surprised to read on Get Prepared that everyone should know how to turn off their gas and their electricity. Makes sense, but despite our many discussions, this had never come up. I have no idea how to turn off our gas, but I'll make sure I find out!
And finally, Get a Kit. You'll be surprised how simple a basic kit is to put together (you probably have most of the items in your house right now). However, there's a bit more to being really prepared than meets the eye. Get Prepared advises that emergency kits should contain enough supplies to keep your household going for the first 72 hours of the disaster, since emergency crews will be dealing with the most serious cases first. One of the items that really got me thinking was water. Obviously it's probably the most important item, yet do you realize how much water you are supposed to have stored? Two liters per day per person. That's six liters per person for 72 hours. You can do the math for your family but that's a lot of water! One thing I like to bear in mind with emergency kits is to have one that is portable. Our Jeep is stocked with lots of emergency supplies, but what if we had to evacuate on foot or leave our vehicle? The kit I took with me today held all the items on Get Prepared's Basic Emergency kit list. Our home and our vehicle have additional supplies. You can assemble your kit yourself or you can purchase one, but the important thing is to get one!!
By 3:30 on Saturday I was back home, sipping tea and working on this post. The advisory had come and gone without incident in our area. The sun was shining and it felt more like May than February. Some people may think me silly for taking my dogs and my kit and heading for higher ground, but I look at it three ways. One, better safe than sorry. Two, it was a good "drill" for what to do if there was a more serious threat. And three, it got me thinking about our own emergency plan and what we can do to improve it.
Thinking of and praying for the people of Chile. God Bless.