Preparing for the worst

Mid-Island municipalities plan to team up with their disaster plans

David Weicker says people need to know how to look after themselves in the case of a major disaster.

David Weicker says people need to know how to look after themselves in the case of a major disaster.

Oceanside residents will likely be on their own for a while after a major earthquake strikes the area, and civic officials want to make sure they’re able to take care of themselves until help arrives.

With the seemingly endless series of earthquakes experienced around the Pacific Rim these days, says consultant David Weicker, the need to be prepared is more important than ever.

“Events happening on the Pacific Rim are pushing the community to take emergency preparation more seriously,” Weicker said in a presentation Wednesday to Qualicum Beach council. “It’s happening in Japan, Christchurch, Papua New Guinea, Myanmar and Chile, all over the place.”

Because of this, he continued, the Town of Qualicum Beach, the City of Parksville and the Regional District of Nanaimo have teamed together to present a special emergency preparedness forum on May 4 and 5 at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre.

The event, he said, will focus on three aspects of preparedness.

“The first two aspects will be held on the evening of May 4, from 7 to 10 p.m. with a keynote address by Kelly Kryzanowski, the manager of catastrophic planning for Emergency Management B.C.,” he said. “She is going to set the stage — not to scare the citizens, but there will be some issues that will bring it to reality for us. It’s not a question of if a big quake will happen, but when.”

That evening, he continued, residents will be able to take part in a panel discussion about earthquake preparedness and what they can do as individuals, from a practical standpoint. The panel will include representatives from the community, the province, the regional district, the municipality and others.

“What is going to happen with our children,” he said. “What about our elderly parents or those with disabilities? What happens to the infrastructure? This gives people an opportunity to ask questions.

The following day, he said, which runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., will include a speaker series, delving into emergency preparation in general, neighbourhood preparation, prescription medication issues, emergency kits and the care of pets and farm animals.

The event will include a number of displays and demonstrations, including how to put together a simple emergency kit, how to turn off gas lines, secure your hot water tank and heavy furniture.

“It’s not the quake that’s likely to kill us, it’s things falling over or not having water or food,” Weicker said, noting the event will also feature a series of information booths on issues such as emergency procedures for elementary and middle schools, for the elderly, Emergency Social Services and reception centres.

There is no cost to attend the forum.


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