Potential emergency a wake-up call

Potential emergency a wake-up call

Residents need to heed possible warnings and have a plan

Emergency preparedness has clearly been on the minds of residents since last week’s earthquake in Alaska that triggered a tsunami warning.

For the record, we are in Zone E for tsunamis in the Chemainus region and have a very low risk.

Many people became panic-stricken after hearing about the evacuations to emergency centres in Tofino and Port Alberni. Those areas are in quite a different situation with exposure to the West Coast, and in Alberni’s case, the Alberni Inlet makes it particularly vulnerable to tsunamis.

We are on the sheltered side of the Island, with the Strait of Georgia to the Mainland seldom affected by higher wave activity. That doesn’t mean we can be complacent and simply not take notice when these warnings are issued.

Sybille Sanderson, the emergency program coordinator for the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s public safety division, concedes this is a wake-up call that we all need to take more seriously.

Aside from tsunamis, we need to be cognizant of possible emergency evacuations for wildfires or floods. These occurrences are especially more pertinent to our area. Having personal items available and ready to take with you at a moment’s notice is always a good idea.

Sanderson says in the event of a planned or organized evacuation the best location for evacuees will be determined at the time an order is given.

In the case of an earthquake, it’s quite different. People are advised to stay where they are and listen to local radio for updates.

Misinformation that often leads to panic in an emergency can make any situation 10 times worse. Just keeping these few things in mind will make it much easier for a coordinated response between emergency officials and residents.