Failing to plan is planning to fail

OPINION: It's emergency preparedness week. Time to prepare in this week's column.

Just over one year ago was the most devastating disaster in Alberta history and everyone needs to take something away from it.

Kind of ironic that this is Emergency Preparedness Week and that ensuring people need to be ready is still something that a lot of the population are either not too worried about, think it won’t happen to them or just don’t care.

The massive evacuation of Fort McMurray, with relatively short notice, was the largest ever in the province. However, it is only the latest incident that has seen people having to leave their homes for a period of time.

Other examples include the incredible flooding in and around High River, the tremendously terrible wildfire in Kelowna and the disastrous Quebec ice storm. You can also toss in a couple of train disasters, in Alberta and Quebec, to the list.

Yet, regardless of the number of incidents , it seems there remains a lot of complacency out there.

Getting things into place isn’t that difficult and there are plenty of resources both online and in the community that can help if you don’t quite know where to start in preparing for an emergency plus implementing a 72-hour survival kit.

Speak to your local fire department or municipal office, which can provide some suggestions about items to have in a kit and what plans are necessary regarding contact and accommodation information. Officials can also be a great resource about local procedures and how best to find out about emergency situations and how to respond.

For more general information, the Canadian Red Cross or the Alberta Emergency Management Agency have details on just what kind of items are adequate for a 72-hour kit, along with planning and preparation material when an emergency occurs.

As an emergency first responder, having the family knowing what to do in case something happens is the first key. Whether it’s going to the best spot when severe weather or a potential tornado is in the area or knowing when to get out, having a plan where everyone knows what to do can ensure their safety.

The next step is to make certain contact with the outside world can be made in some way, if they have to hunker down wherever they are. Some may think that is a cellphone, but a hand-crank powered charger/flashlight or as simple as a pencil and paper can let rescuers know where to find them.

And having a three-day supply of water along with food with something that can open what it’s packaged in (can opener, etc) is the minimum amount per person that is recommended. This isn’t to say you need to fill a storeroom like some nuclear-apocalyptic bomb shelter fanatic from the 1960s. It can be as simple as some canned goods, some nutritious snack bars, dried fruits and maybe a few other items.

If possible, it might be adviseable to have some way to heat up the canned food.

However, being able to shelter in your own house may not be feasible, which means heading to nearby family, friends or an evacuation centre.

If that’s the case, make sure personal identification information such as driver’s licences, birth certificates, passports and health care numbers is on hand as it can make life a bit easier. Having other important documentation insurance policies, wills in the package taken from the house may also be of benefit, if only to make claims and dealing with government officials less stressful. As well, keep all receipts since it might be possible to be reimbursed for any money spent while on evacuation.

So, take some time before heading out for the coming May long weekend to prepare and plan for an eventual emergency situation, because you just never know when something will happen.

But that is…just an observation.