In case you weren’t aware, May 1 to 7 is Emergency Preparedness Week. Probably not the most important square on the calendar as far as most Canadians are concerned.
But come the Big one – and we all know a Big One is coming – you may end up wishing you had taken a little time to follow up on some of the tips available to citizens on sites like GetPrepared.ca, the Government of Canada emergency preparedness web site, or at CVRDEP.bc.ca, where you can download a copy of The Cowichan Valley Emergency Preparedness Workbook.
According to Ladysmith Fire Chief Ray Delcourt and Cowichan Valley Regional District Emergency Program Coordinator Sybille Sanderson the most likely biggies here are earthquake and wildfire. And we’ve had a taste of both in recent months – equivalent to the shiver up the spine you might feel when someone walks over your grave.
On Dec. 29, 2015, as a sort of farewell message for the year, Vancouver Island was rattled by a magnitude 4.3 quake centered about eight kilometres east of Sydney in the Strait of Georgia.
That one lit up social media with reports about what it felt like – a car driving into the house was one of the descriptions. Notch up the Richter scale to 8.2 and we’d have had major damage, deaths and injuries in both Vancouver, Victoria and possibly in other coastal communities.
Simon Fraser University Geologist Brent Ward described the December quake as a ‘crustal’ event which took place 50 to 60 kilometres beneath the earth’s surface. A 7.2 magnitude quake near Courtenay in 1946, which was much closer to the surface, caused landslides, soil liquefaction and damage to buildings.
“You can imagine if we got a 7.2 earthquake underneath a populated part of Vancouver Island, there would be significant damage and there would definitely be fatalities,” Ward said after the December shakeup.
Feeling is believing, though. And the CVRD is going to be bringing an earthquake to our doorstep in the form of the Shake Zone on May 26 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. If you’d like to know what you are preparing for, you’ll want to head down to the Island Savings Centre parking lot in Duncan, where you’ll get a chance to experience the earth moving under your seat.
The Shake Zone simulates what people feel in a magnitude 8.2 quake. “I think it’s a great tool for giving people a chance to feel just how crazy that feels,” Sanderson said.
On July 2 residents of Cedar were on high alert due to a grass fire that forced evacuations of some residents. Talking to the Chronicle Ray Rinta remembered the flames approaching dangerously close to his home, then being evacuated on short notice.
Local fire departments kept that under control, but there was a lot of concern things might have gotten much worse.
Delcourt said not enough residents in the Ladysmith area are ready for the wildfire that does get out of control. “People should get on the internet and start preparing themselves,” he warned. “That’s why we have these preparedness weeks where we keep pushing it out to the public.”
At a minimum, you should have a grab and go kit ready at all times. To find out more, click on the Emergency Preparedness link at CVRDEP.bc.ca, then on the Emergency Comfort Kit link.