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Island emergency official says you should be self-sufficient for at least 7 days

Sidney Volunteer Fire Department Deputy Chief Mike Harman says threats go beyond earthquakes
The Saanich Peninsula faces more than just earthquakes in terms of natural emergencies, says Mike Harman, Sidney Volunteer Fire Department Deputy Chief, in encouraging residents to prepare themselves. A weather event that mixes snow with heavy winds leading to a power outage has the potential to leave residents unprepared. (Photo courtesy of Daniel Brimacombe)

Prepare yourself and your family for at least seven days of self-sufficiency after an emergency.

Mike Herman, deputy fire chief with the Sidney Volunteer Department, has historically shared this figure whenever he and Jackie Goodwin, neighbourhood emergency preparedness program coordinator with Peninsula Emergency Measures Organization (PEMO), have appeared before audiences to speak about preparing for emergencies.

The figure itself comes from a publicly available document titled A Guide to Emergency Preparedness in the Capital Region.

“Provincially, they are saying three days, but locally here we are saying, ‘Be ready for seven days,’” said Harman. “Seven days is reality. Seven (days) is probably the earliest.”

Harman said it is hard to measure how aware the public is about emergency preparedness but public education is ramping back up.

“Over the last two-and-a-half years, working through a pandemic, the public education component and the interaction between our emergency management team and residents was minimal, just to protect residents and to protect staff.”

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While Vancouver Island generally may not experience the same type of emergencies as intensely and frequently as other parts of the world — see the recent storms that battered the eastern seaboard of the United States and Canada — residents should prepare themselves for a variety of emergencies and not just earthquakes, as per the region’s proximity to an active earthquake zone, said Harman.

“So many people in the community, they focus solely on earthquakes and we haven’t had one in a long time that has been catastrophic and that has impacted everyday life,” said Harman. “But I always like to (point out), what about a heat event, what about a weather event (like snow mixed with heavy wind leading to a power outage)? None of us are prepared for that because it is not everyday life.”

Harman suggests that residents game-plan for emergencies twice a year — during fire prevention week (which runs Oct. 9 and 15 this year) and then during emergency preparedness week in May.

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Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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