Thursday, March 6, 2008

Emergency Preparedness

When warm weather, melting snow, and longer days signal spring in Peace River, we all start watching the river for break-up--always an anxious time. Now that I'm part of the Town's Emergency Management Agency, I find myself even more aware than I was in the past about what this time of year means and how important it is to be prepared for anything.

This week, residents received the Town's Annual Information Brochure: Spring Break-Up Contingency Plan in their mailbox. As the cover states, the intent is not to frighten or alarm residents, but to inform and help us all think about our readiness for an emergency.

The provincial and federal emergency management agencies have started to ask Canadians to be prepared to be relatively self-sufficient for the first 72 hours of an emergency of any kind, and there are many possibilities beyond flooding, such as extended power outages, a tornado, rail derailment/toxic spill, or even a terrorism incident.

When you think about the chaos that often exists after a major emergency, early responders should be able to concentrate on establishing order and dealing with injured or people at risk rather than worrying about whether the rest of us have food and water or are prepared to be evacuated. We can make their jobs easier by being prepared.

On Get (, there is a booklet that can be downloaded that will help you and your family be prepared for those first 72 hours. The booklet contains a list of the supplies we should have on hand and be able to easily access, documents we need copies of, what to do with your house if you get evacuated, and so on. There is also an excellent page on flooding, including ways to minimize damage in the case of a flood:

On the Alberta Emergency Management Agency (AEMA) website, you can access a variety of resources on emergency preparedness and emergency management, including brochures entitled "Before the Flood," "After the Flood, " and "Flooding." While the Town has put a number of measures into place to minimize the risk of flooding, such as rebuilding the Heart River bridge and working with Alberta Environment and BC Hydro to closely monitor freeze-up and break-up, Mother Nature doesn't always cooperate and we're better prepared if we're knowledgeable.

Beyond personal safety and planning, businesses have become increasingly aware, since 9-11 and Hurricane Katrina, that they need to find ways to ensure business continuity after a disaster. The Public Safety Canada website has a resource on this topic called
A guide to business continuity planning, available at this link:

There are more links on business continuity on the AEMA website:

Let's do our part for emergency preparedness by being ready to spend the first 72 hours without power or other amenities or to be prepared for evacuation after a major event. Check out the supplies list and see how well you'd fare if disaster struck tonight. I'll be checking that list myself!

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