I grew up in Alberta, spending my childhood in the Calgary area. We would often travel the short distance to Bragg Creek, to visit my grandparents and aunt and uncle.
Last Thursday, I watched as disaster struck southern Alberta, with flood waters rising so high, that a state of emergency was called. People have gone missing, houses are destroyed; the latest report had the Calgary Zoo relocating the animals to safer locations. While rising waters can be expected to a certain degree at this time of year, by all accounts, the onslaught was unanticipated by most, and came so quickly that many were left scrambling to get to safety.
The whole situation has made me question my own preparedness in the event of a natural disaster. One need only watch the news lately to realize that hurricanes, tornados, floods and fire can spring forth with unexpected and deadly force. While we here in Oliver may not need to worry about hurricanes or tornados, there is always potential for emergency situations, no matter where you live. In an area that hosts a large senior population, a demographic that can be particularly vulnerable when such incidents occur, how prepared are we?
While it doesn’t do any good to be constantly worried or in a state of high alert, it is prudent to be prepared for all possibilities. Just as we are taught as children to practice escape routes out of our homes in the event of a fire, it is important to have a plan should an emergency arise, such as a flood, earthquake or other disaster. There are several things that you can do to better ensure the safety of yourself and your loved ones.
Know your emergency numbers, and have a planned meeting place arranged. If you should have to evacuate your home while your children are at school for example, it is good to have a predetermined meeting place, much the same as having a practised escape route out of your home.
Many people have emergency kits in their vehicles, but we should also have them in our homes. Candles, blankets, canned goods, water, flashlights with extra batteries, a portable radio – all of these things might seem obvious, but how many of us actually have them on hand, ready to access should they be needed?
There is no use living in fear of something that may or may not happen, but it can never hurt to be prepared for the unexpected. There are many resources where you can learn what sort of measures to take, items to keep in stock, and procedures to follow; websites like www.72hours.org or www.redcross.ca/prepare. Make sure that your whole family is educated on what to do, and don’t forget to include pets in your emergency preparations.
By Tiffany Beckdorf
Special to the Chronicle