Canadian Red Cross Vernon volunteers Barry Kasdorf

Canadian Red Cross Vernon volunteers Barry Kasdorf

Are you prepared?

Emergency Preparedness Week has Red Cross urging residents to make sure they are ready in case an emergent situation arises

Melissa Peet

Special to The Morning Star

Many of us believe it will never happen to us, but nearly half of all Canadians have experienced at least two different types of disasters. Emergency Preparedness Week (May 3 to 9) is therefore a great time to get prepared for an emergency.

Here are three steps all of us can follow:

The first step of emergency preparedness is to know the risks in your area. If you don’t know what your risks are, you can go to the Canadian Disaster Database http://cdd.publicsafety.gc.ca/srchpg-eng.aspx to see what types of disasters have occurred in your area.

The second step of emergency preparedness is to make a plan. Determine the best way to evacuate your family and your pets from your home, and a safe place to meet. In some disasters you may not be able to evacuate and therefore you should be prepared to be self-sufficient for at least three days. This is why it is important to have easy access to a 72-hour emergency kit.

Creating a 72-hour emergency kit is the third step of emergency preparedness. You can either buy a pre-packaged kit with many of the basics, or you can make your own. The Canadian Red Cross website www.redcross.ca has a detailed guide to help you build a kit for your entire family.  Everyone’s needs are different so it is important to consider the unique requirements of your own family such as medications, extra pairs of glasses, etc. Make sure there is enough non-perishable, ready-to-eat food to feed your family and pets for at least three days. Don’t forget to pack a can-opener! It is also important to have enough clean drinking water for each family member and pet to sustain them for 72 hours.

The Canadian Red Cross provides support at no-charge to people affected by personal disasters such as house fires, as well as more widespread disasters like floods and wildfires. The Red Cross can provide things like emergency lodging, food, and clothing to help people recover.

In Vernon, there is a small, yet highly trained and dedicated, team of Canadian Red Cross Disaster Management volunteers who are ready to respond in times of need. They share the responsibility of carrying an on-call phone which is monitored 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in case of a local disaster.

Anyone interested in helping their neighbours by joining the Canadian Red Cross can visit www.redcross.ca.

Melissa Peet is the Vernon team lead for disaster management with Canadian Red Cross