A recent survey by Prepare B.C. found nearly 60% of British Columbians feel they are unprepared for an emergency.
A large portion of those said it was because they lacked an emergency kit or an emergency plan.
The Canadian Red Cross also has pre-made kits available for purchase.
If that wake-up call inspired you to update your emergency preparedness kit, here’s a good resource: https://t.co/v4tHv1ha5V
— Surrey RCMP (@SurreyRCMP) December 30, 2015
Emergency kit staples
Officials say you should be prepared to be on your own for a minimum of 72 hours by developing a household plan and putting together an emergency kit.
The Canadian Red Cross recommends the kit should include:
- Food (non-perishable)
- Manual can opener
- Crank or battery-operated flashlight, with extra batteries
- Battery-operated or crank radio
- Extra keys, for your house and car
- First aid kit
- Cash in small bills
- Special needs items (i.e. medications, infant formula)
- Personal hygiene items
- Important family documents (i.e. copies of birth and marriage certificates, passports, licenses, wills, land deeds and insurance)
- A copy of your emergency plan
Matthew Colling with the BC Red Cross says the kit is important, but it’s only half of the equation.
“We’ve got one in our house and one in our car, it’s imperative. You might be at work , your spouse might be at home, your children might be at school, so you might all be spread out. That’s why it’s important to have that emergency plan.”
READ MORE: 4.3 magnitude earthquake rattles South Coast
What to do if you feel an earthquake
If you are inside during an earthquake, stay inside.
In most emergency situations, DROP down onto your hands and knees before the earthquake knocks you down.
COVER your head and neck (and your entire body if possible) under the shelter of a sturdy table or desk.
HOLD ON to your shelter or body until the shaking stops.
Another tip – keep your emergency preparedness kit well-stocked and in an easily accessible location.
Emergency lines for emergency
The earthquake has also prompted a renewed appeal for people to avoid calling 911 unless they are in a genuine emergency.
BC’s Minister of State for Emergency Preparedness, Naomi Yamamoto, says it’s a recurring problem.
“What we want to make sure doesn’t happen, and it happened during the windstorms, people should avoid using 911, unless there is an emergency attached to it.”
Surrey RCMP Staff Sergeant Dale Carr says minutes after the earthquake hit the coast of B.C. their lines were flooded with non-emergency calls.
“Well we experienced an influx of calls to our radio room about 5 minutes after the tremor, so what we are trying to say is if you don’t have an emergency and is just an inquiry please call our routine line or the non-emergency line.”
The situation was the same as that experienced by E-Comm, the 9-1-1 dispatch service for much of the South Coast.
Spokesperson Jody Robertson says 9-1-1 is not an information line, it’s a life line.
“People were calling just to ask was that an earthquake and what they should do. Some people were calling to find out how bad the earthquake was, and whether there would be another one. In some cases people were actually calling us to tell us there was an earthquake.”
In all: 247 calls within fifteen minutes of the quake.
Robertson urges people to utilize the media and government resources to obtain earthquake information.
Red Cross Emergency Kit Checklist:
Local sales of kits rise immediately
Brian Fong with 72 Hours in Burnaby sells earthquake kits, complete with water, rations, shelter, and first-aid supplies.
He says his company started getting online orders for kits a mere half an hour after the earthquake struck.
But the business has been consistent throughout all of 2015.
“We’ve been busy for the whole year. Last night brought a huge jolt, but it doesn’t mean we only get business during an earthquake. We’ve been busy the whole year.”
Fong still thinks residents in the Lower Mainland as a whole don’t subscribe to the idea of an emergency kit, but is hoping last night’s quake will change their minds.