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CONTRIBUTION · 2nd November 2012
Gary Haupt
This not meant to condemn or be a fear mongering article; it is however, meant to be something that just might save your life. Or your kids lives.

We have all been watching the New York City events. Hurricane Sandy has been exactly what all the experts said could and would happen. Even with that knowledge, the system is unable to meet demands. Even today, four days later, New York and New Jersey are short on food, water and fuel; the three things people need to survive. People are getting mad and frustrated. It's not much of a leap, to hear gunfire.

And these folks are in a huge city, not northern BC.

We have now had three major quakes in the past week, all without major damage. We are getting off lucky, because if these were to have caused severe damage, we would be in a world of hurt.

The truth is, when/if it happens here, very few are going to be able to look after themself and that is a shame. There is a huge need for people to pay attention to how dangerous our situation could be, in a matter of minutes.

Our emergency services, the RCMP, Firefighters and hospitals, would be absolutely over-whelmed. In many cases they would be unable to get out to the communities to even begin. If the quake is strong enough, the bridges will likely be damaged if not collapsed. Power will be off. There will not be cell phone service, either.

This isn't about what our Government's tell us. This is just plain hard fact. You will be on your own. And if you haven't planned and thought this through, you may well perish. Imagine if it happens in winter. Can you stay warm? Do you have the resources to look after yourselves? Communities can do some planning that will see them survive. It's easier for individuals to plan for this though; ego's get in the way with many planning groups.

If you have read this far and are nodding your head, then let's carry on.

From here on it's a KISS “Keep It Simple, Sweetheart” principle. The fancier the plan, the quicker it will fail.

Immediately following 'the event', panic can set in. Where are the kids and family? A plan is easy to make. If 'the event' occurs during school hours/days, teach your kids to stay at the school. That way you know where to go to get them and they will know you are coming. If not a school time, then determine THE place where the kids go grandparents or close friends. If they go off somewhere else you'll be sick with worry and won't be thinking straight. Getting our family safe is #1, because if we aren't secure in that, we make too many mistakes. Make a plan. Talk about it. KISS

Because we live in an area that can have severe weather for an extended period of time, to make it through a disaster, small or large, we need to plan.

You need to think of how to heat and cook. The old Coleman stoves and lanterns are great but you have to be very careful. The fuel is so dangerous. But they do give wonderful heat and light. Propane stoves and lights are common to us, too. But remember you need fuel; enough for a week, at least. Fuel is cheap; have more than enough. Many people have wood burners around the house. Can you get it outside, if you need to?

And shelter. If your house has damage or has collapsed, you need to have a plan. You can make a shelter out of house stuff; KISS.

There are lots of good websites. This is the BC Emergency Preparedness one.

Many communities utilize VHF to communicate. Ensure you have extra batteries and use your radio sparingly. Once you have used up the batteries, you are out of contact. Stay off of channel 16 to chat, it is for emergencies. Pick some other channel.

Emergency Kits. KISS

If you have decided to do this you can buy a ready-made kit. They wouldn't be my first choice. They are costly and don't really have what is needed. Even the carry bag is of poor material.

We have some excellent resources right here at home. Wal-Mart, Candian Tire, Shoppers Drugs, Wholesale Foods; all of the food stores can be visited to get the needed items.

Water is probably the most important item in a kit, and yet, the sheer volume needed makes this a difficult thing to manage. I'd say, have a jug of bleach on hand, because you can purify volumes of water much more efficiently and cheaper than you can store enough, keeping it fresh. You can use a piece of cloth to filter out the leaves and so on, then purify it.

Disinfecting: Disinfecting with household bleach kills some, but not all, types of disease-causing organisms. The bleach must contain chlorine in order to work. Don't use scented bleaches, colour-safe bleaches, or bleaches with added cleaners. Most household chlorine bleaches have 4-6 percent available chlorine, in which case add 1/8 teaspoon (8 drops) of regular, unscented, liquid household bleach for each gallon of water (2 drops per litre), stir it well and let it stand for 30 minutes before you use it. Check the label; if the percentage of available chlorine is around 1 percent, or you don't know what the percentage is, use 40 drops per gallon/ 10 drops per litre; if the percentage is 7-10 percent, use 4 drops per gallon or 1 drop per litre. Double the amount of chlorine if the water is cloudy, murky, or coloured, or if the water is extremely cold. If, after sitting covered for 30 minutes, the water doesn't have a slight chlorine odour, repeat the dosage and let sit for another 15 minutes.

Food is next and the current trend is dehydrated goods. The biggest downside to that is you need a lot of water to make this usable. It's much easier and far cheaper to lay in lots of canned goods. I would have a bag of rice and bulk of pasta, both bagged (times 3) and stored in watertight plastic totes. The kind that are always about $8.00 at the stores. They stack really well, too. You don't need to put canned goods in these; just items that must be kept dry. Matches, paper, extra clothing.

Tools are important; a couple of shovels, an axe, a file, a couple of pruning saws and some knives. After this add anything you want. You don't NEED a generator, but if you can afford one, by all means. Remember though with anything that runs, like a generator, you have to run it once a month just to keep the lines and fuel delivery clean. If you don't take care of it; come the time you need it, it'll fail. And you have to stock fuel. Enough fuel to get you through.

Candles are dangerous, but we use them, so one has to be careful and make sure that they are placed safely. Many fires start because of candles that fall over when people have gone to bed. Blow them out.

You can get great long lasting emergency candles thru Mountain Equipment Co-op.

A UCO lantern candle will burn for about 9 hours. You can get some neat lanterns too.

Get a supply of bandages, anti-biotic creams, and slings. Bug and sun sprays, too. Some Tylenol or stuff like that. You know, enough for caring for small stuff; burns and cuts. Plan for that. KISS.

Think KISS, every time you consider an item for your emergency preparations; the fancier the plan, the quicker the fail.

This next part is to anyone involved in planning at the Government level, Community or any group or family units that are going to be planning:

There is something you need to take care of, right after 'an event'. 1.5 hours after, the body begins to relax and when that happens, people need to go to the bathroom, and not to just pee. A supply of the boxed plastic bags, a bag of lime and a shovel are needed. Dig some holes away from the living area, line them with plastic and put a container of lime close by with a trowel. Disease control is huge.