With a 6.1 earthquake off Haida Gwaii on April 24 and more than 2,500 people killed by an earthquake in Nepal on Saturday, local experts are stressing the importance of being prepared.
The recent events come just before Emergency Preparedness Week, which is May 3-9. This year local municipal governments are joining forces to focus on a regional approach.
“We work very well and very closely with Parksville and the Regional District of Nanaimo,” said Qualicum Beach Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Rob Daman.
There will be two trade shows or expos in the region, in Qualicum Beach, Wednesday, May 6 and Parksville, the next day to gather all the related emergency services and community groups and give the public a chance to learn about individual preparation.
“The focus is always — know the risks, make a plan and prepare a kit,” Daman said. “Anything people can do in terms of personal preparation really helps.”
He listed off the numerous participants from the regular emergency services like fire, police and ambulance, as well as things like the volunteer emergency communications and social services organizations.
There will also be representation from groups not necessarily directly thought of in the emergency service context like the Shriners, who will demonstrate their mobile kitchen, the SPCA and marine rescue services as well as utility companies like BC Hydro and Terasen Gas. They will provide information through displays and hands-on demonstrations.
The experts encourage people to think ahead about the challenges they may face in an emergency such as not having time to gather resources, family members being in different places, communications being down, utilities being interrupted, roads being closed and regular sources of food, water and gas not being available.
Daman said that while the two municipalities are hosting the events, the RDN is just as important a player and will be highlighting their neighbourhood emergency program (NEP).
He also encourages people to bring their fire extinguishers in to be tested and there will be live demonstrations and a chance for hands on lessons on how to use them properly.
The expos both run 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., May 6 at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre and May 7 at the Parksville Community and Conference Centre. Check your local municipality’s website for more on emergency preparedness or contact you fire department with specific questions and tips.