Picture this—your home is in flames and your family members, including children, are fleeing to safety through any door or window they can reach.
So you’ve made it outside safely on your own, but can’t spot the rest of your family. You begin searching frantically and wonder, are they still inside? Are they on the other side of the house/apartment/condo? A fireman is ready to rush back into the burning building to search, but what if you’re sending him or her into a life-threatening situation for no reason?
Deciding on a dedicated meeting place outside your home in case of emergency is the first and simplest step your family can take when planning for a disaster, whether it’s a fire, flood, earthquake or terrorist attack. That was the first lesson Courier staffers learned last week during an emergency preparedness workshop put on by the City of Vancouver’s emergency planning coordinator Jackie Kloosterboer. These workshops are taking place across the city, but if you can gather together a group of 15 or more, Kloosterboer will come to you for no charge. It’s the best deal in town.
Much of what Kloosterboer told us is common sense, but the problem is that while we all know we should be prepared, few of us bother. Kloosterboer says a key step in surviving an emergency is keeping a “grab-and-go” kit handy to your door. For the most part, these kits should include basics such as water, a flashlight with batteries, candle, matches, lighter, extra car keys, a battery or crank operated radio, toilet paper, a whistle, some food, toiletries and cash. Kloosterboer says these kits should be personalized to include copies of personal papers, extras of vital medications, and baby or pet food if needed. Speaking of pets, Kloosterboer conducts emergency workshops dedicated to our furry friends and she says they are the most popular of all of the talks she gives.
At the Courier, should the “big one” hit we probably won’t have much to worry about since we’ll likely be buried under the Granville Street Bridge. But on the off chance some of us survive, Kloosterboer says we should also keep a small grab-and-go kit in or near our desk. She adds keeping a pair of comfortable walking shoes nearby is important. I know there are some Courier staffers, I’m talking to you Shez, who might have problems navigating the rubble left behind by an earthquake while wearing gorgeous red pumps.
Kloosterboer notes there are some places in the city that sell pre-packaged emergency kits, but notes it’s more economical to prepare your own. Kloosterboer added she also keeps an emergency kit in her car.
Other important tips Kloosterboer gave the Courier are also simple, but can mean the difference between life and death. Number one is ensuring your hot water heater and gas appliances are secure. Furniture on wheels, like dishwashers, should be made stationary. Tall furniture like bookcases and china cabinets should also be secured, while large mirrors and pictures should be moved away from beds. Flying glass is a huge concern during an earthquake, so if possible beds should never be placed directly under a window. If you have no choice, Kloosterboer says heavy blinds and curtains could help mitigate the danger.
It’s Emergency Preparedness Week across Canada May 6 to 12, so there’s no better time to check out the city’s website for information about workshops near you. And if you do nothing else, put together an emergency to-go kit and choose a designated meeting place for your family outside the home. For more information, visit the city’s website at vancouver.ca/emerg. It could save your life.
To see a video about the Courier’s emergency preparedness workshop, go to vancourier.com.