Opinion: Take time to be prepared

As the experts say, it’s better to be prepared than to be sorry.

The destruction in Nepal provides a sobering reminder as we mark emergency preparedness week here in Chilliwack and across the province.

Mount Baker, looming dormant just a few kilometres south of the city, is an obvious example of the Pacific Ring of Fire that the West Coast belongs to.

But there are others. The 6.1 earthquake off the coast of Haida Gwaii two weeks ago again illustrated the tectonic forces at work beneath our feet. In fact, two of the largest earthquakes to ever rattle the seismic recording devices in Canada have occurred in the region.

Before that, the grand-daddy of them all struck in 1700. The quake, estimated at 9 on the Richter scale, was felt as far away as Japan and sent tsunami waves washing across entire native villages.

Geologists are united in the conviction that a similar earthquake could occur anytime. Indeed, as time goes on and stress builds, the likelihood increases.

Earthquakes aren’t unusual in B.C. (There were 288 in the province last year.) Most, thankfully, are not felt. But experts agree that it’s simply a matter of time before a major, damaging quake hits our region.

That reality is not meant to frighten people; it’s meant to spur action. While we can look to government to strengthen building codes, allocate emergency resources and facilitate disaster planning, real emergency preparedness begins at home.

It starts with simple steps that you and your family can take to ensure that if an emergency occurs your household is able to look after itself for at least 72 hours. That means having a sufficient supply of water (at least two litres per person per day), canned goods (and a manual can opener), something to help you stay warm and dry, a first aid kit, and maybe some cash. If special medications are needed, make sure there is also an adequate supply of those.

And if you have pets, don’t forget about their needs.

Keep your supplies updated, and store them in a place you can get to in an emergency (not the farthest basement corner).

Hopefully, they’ll never be needed.

But as the experts say, it’s better to be prepared than to be sorry.

There is information online that can help you prepare. Take the time to learn more.