D.J. Lawrence, the City of Vancouver’s Volunteer Neighbourhood Emergency Preparedness Instructor. -Image: Mark Dreger

Importance of emergency preparedness highlighted

BC Military Family Resource Centre discusses what to do in emergencies Saturday in Kelowna

By Mark Dreger

The BC Military Family Resource Centre (BCMFRC) held a presentation Saturday at the Kelowna Regional Library on the importance of what to do in an emergency.

“We’ve seen this summer alone just in our own backyard in B.C., a whole bunch of locations in the States, and terrorism worldwide, that emergency can strike and nobody expects it,” said D.J. Lawrence, City of Vancouver Volunteer Neighbourhood Emergency Preparedness Instructor.

In light of disasters that have affected communities across BC like the fires in the Cariboo and the gas leak in Fernie, the presentation addressed disasters that could impact where locals live and work, such as fires, earthquakes, spills and leaks, and even zombie attacks.

“It’s not that anybody, that I know of, is anticipating zombie attacks, although there are interesting reports that have been done in the States on how they would reply to one,” said Lawrence. “Whatever gets people thinking and talking about it because it’s kind of a morbid subject. People want to hope for the best and so on, I want them to plan for the worst.”

Lawrence and BCMFRC executive director Tracy Cromwell stressed the importance of identifying hazards, establishing a family meeting place and contact, creating emergency kits, and knowing what to do with kids, seniors, and pets when emergency strikes.

“Emergency can hit any of us at anytime, anywhere in our own community, or on a holiday, or in our work, and the more people that are prepared the better off we’ll all be,” Lawrence said. “It’s not that I’m doom and gloom, but statistically there’s an earthquake every so many years and my understanding is we’re well overdue.”

Lawrence also addressed tips that could save lives, such as that smoke inhalation can knock someone unconscious before the smoke trips the smoke alarm. Some of the many tips Lawrence addressed included keeping cellphone use at a minimum during the beginning of an emergency to not chew up bandwidth, and to not leave batteries inside emergency devises, as they can trickle and be empty and useless after several months once an emergency may come about.

For those wanting to understand the basics of what to do in an emergency when power and internet become scarce, Lawrence makes the distinction between what to “do” and what to “know.”

“To ‘do’ is to just start your kit,” Lawrence said. “There are excellent prepared kits for sure, but if you don’t do that or don’t have money or the resources or the space, just start a kit. Any bag will do. Just start the kit and give yourself a place to put things.

“For knowledge, have a plan. Talk with your family about how you would reconnect, what communications tactics you would use, what routes you would take, and where you leave notes. That’s the most important part to most people is how to reconnect with their loved ones.”

The BCMFRC will be holding a second presentation in Vernon at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 29 at the Okanagan Regional Library on 30th Avenue.

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