Opinion

Guest editorial — Earthquake drill is important

Last week’s BC Shakeout offered residents another reminder of the importance of emergency planning.

The premise for the annual drill is an earthquake, but the lessons don’t end there. They underline the need for a planned response to any emergency.

This year’s event, part of a nationwide earthquake drill, drew nearly 700,000 participants in B.C. At precisely 10:17 Thursday morning, participants “ducked, covered and hung on” in a simulation of proper earthquake response.

If participation was high in this province, it’s because the West Coast is a likely candidate for a major earthquake. Experts agree it’s not a question of if, but when. Indeed, in the past 70 years there have been more than 100 earthquakes off the coast of Vancouver Island that had a magnitude of five or greater.

Being prepared for a major quake is not only prudent, it’s proactive. Last week’s drill not only emphasized how to react when an earthquake strikes, but also what to do when the ground stops shaking.

And that’s perhaps the most important lesson: An effective response means proper planning for the 72 hours following a major incident, regardless of what kind.

Major earthquakes are thankfully rare here, as are tornadoes, hurricanes and other natural disasters.

But emergency planning doesn’t have to anticipate a crisis of that scale. Even more minor events, like the substation fire that left half the city without power for 12 hours, are made better by a little planning.

That’s not all. Wind storms that knock out power, snowstorms that close roads or rain storms that create localized flooding all provide reasons to pack an emergency preparedness kit and have it standing by.

It’s a simple process, and there are ample resources to help show what you and your family will need to cope in the critical 72 hours following an incident of any kind.

The bottom line is that you’re mother was right: It’s better to be safe, than sorry.

To learn more, go to www.shakeoutbc.ca/, or www.GetPrepared.ca.

— Chilliwack Progress

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