By Melissa Smalley
If an emergency were to strike in your neighbourhood, forcing you and your family to evacuate your home, would you be prepared?
It’s a question 108 Mile Ranch resident Bev French and others in her community have been asking in recent months, in an effort to better prepare residents in the area should they be faced with such an event.
French, a volunteer with the Emergency Support Services, spearheaded an effort this summer bringing together neighbours within a few blocks of her home to discuss emergency evacuation plans.
The Sept. 18 “block party” attracted 12 people from the neighbourhood who got to know each other and what sort of skills, resources and supplies they might be able to offer during an emergency.
They discussed the importance of having “grab-and-go” bags at the ready – with things like water, food, medication, flashlights, copies of identification and whatever else they might need.
“It’s up to everybody what they want to put in their bags; we just gave them ideas,” French says.
The group also discussed logistical details, for example, what families with children would do if their youngsters were at school at the time of the emergency.
The intent of the gathering – which French encourages other neighbourhoods in the 108 and around the Cariboo to participate in – was not to scare residents, rather, it was to share ideas and knowledge about emergency preparedness.
“It’s not so much about preparing the neighbourhood, but preparing yourselves. And within that neighbourhood, if you can help each other out, that’s even better.”
One of the most important things when it comes to having a plan, French says, is making sure you and your family have enough supplies to last at least three days, which will allow emergency responders to tend to those who may be sick or badly injured.
“If you have everything you need, you won’t be draining the personnel who are trying to help people in dire straits.”
And should the call come to evacuate – as a result of a forest fire, chemical spill, gas leak or other disaster – having everything you need close at hand will help make a scary situation a little more manageable, French adds.
“There’s just so much to think about, when you’re in a panic situation, you can’t make fast enough decisions to prioritize what’s important.”
To keep the emergency preparedness ball rolling, French and others in the 108 are planning to gather Oct. 20 at the community hall to take part in Shake Out B.C.’s annual earthquake drill. She welcomes anyone in the community to come by around 10 a.m. to learn more about planning and preparedness.
She also invites anyone who is interested in getting their neighbourhood together to discuss plans to call her at 250-791-7206, and she’d be happy to help pass along ideas, tips and resources.
“I don’t think there’s any risk of too much planning,” she notes.