Residents of Vancouver Island should be prepared to live off the grid for several days in the event of a disaster.

That’s one of the messages of Emergency Preparedness Week, May 1-7, as the City of Nanaimo reminds people that now is a good time to create an emergency kit or review and renew items in existing ones. .

Earthquakes, extreme weather and wildfires can cause severe damage to infrastructure, including roads, leaving people stranded for days before emergency services arrive to help or crews can restore infrastructure. .

City of Nanaimo Emergency Program Manager Karen Lindsay has a list of basics that can make life without normal comforts or even shelter a little more bearable until help arrives. She said people should have more than just non-perishable food and water in their emergency kits, but also pet food, toilet paper and some cash on hand, including bills and change.

“I think we are all guilty of it. We live in a world of tapping your bank card and the reality is that a lot of those systems probably won’t work at worst,” Lindsay said.

Any emergency kit should be stocked with items that help people get through the worst of situations. Without electricity, hand torches and radios are essential to provide light and listen to warnings from local authorities. A shovel, a tarp for temporary shelter, and extra warm clothing should also be in the kit.

Major earthquakes may occur on rare occasions, but people need to be prepared for events that occur more frequently, such as high damaging winds, wildfires, and floods.

“Get ready for some of those higher frequency events that we’re seeing in the last couple of years,” Lindsay said. “When we look at part of that climate change scenario… putting all these extras in these kits… it’s going to be great in long duration power outages – you can stay home and keep going.”

Also include matches, a first aid kit, glow sticks, a respirator or breathing mask, and safety goggles for dusty and polluted environments, gloves, and duct tape.

“You can buy a kit or you can add those items slowly and then add your food and water,” Lindsay said. One of the most critical things is water. A human being cannot live without water. Having those water planes is very important.”

Lindsay recommends changing out the old water and replacing it with fresh supplies every spring and fall, and if the water being replaced hasn’t passed its expiration date, consider donating it to a local food bank.

Putting together an emergency preparedness team shouldn’t be overwhelming, he said.

“Keep them simple and critical to what you need to stay warm, stay dry, be able to get the information you need and stay,” he said. “That includes pets.”

Community is important during disasters and it’s a good idea to check with neighbors who may need help.

“This is something that, I think, is sometimes overlooked,” Lindsay said. “When we look at even some of the events that we’ve had in the last couple of years, that whole sense of neighborhood and community is critical to being prepared in that broader sense. Go check on that elderly neighbor. If you know someone who is mobile or has any functional issues, go and see if he needs help.”

The better prepared the population is for an emergency, the faster emergency services and repair teams can get life back to normal.

“The more prepared our residents are, the more focus we can put toward infrastructure (roads, sewer, water) and getting those systems back up and running,” Lindsay said.

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