First things first, before we start the Five Steps To Emergency Preparedness Program, let’s figure out what we are dealing with here. Pemberton is no stranger to emergency events, we’ve experienced floods, poor air quality, power outages and snowstorms to name just a few. We’ve even had a train derailment.
Emergencies are generally broken down into three categories: Natural Events (such as floods and earthquakes), Technological or Environmental Accidents (like a chemical spill or power outage) and Human Caused Incidents (this covers things like riots and civil disorders).
Riots? In our little town? According to the Hazard Risk Vulnerability Assessment that was completed in 2013, it’s not super likely. A Hazard Risk Vulnerability Assessment (or HRVA) is a document that considers the risks that exist in a community by combining the likelihood of a hazard occurring and the impacts the event could have.
The document does identify is a few “high-rated hazards” that could affect our community. This includes wildland fire, multi-casualty incident, hazardous materials accident, train derailment, earthquake and flood. It’s easy to start to feel worried or anxious when you start thinking about all the things that could happen in our little town; emergencies can be scary. So I’d like to encourage you to take a look at the Village of Pemberton’s Emergency Preparedness page, and explore the guides and resources available from PreparedBC so that you’ll know what to do should any of these emergencies happen.
The second thing I’d encourage you to do is talk to your family about disasters. Kids are often far more resilient than we give them credit for, especially when they are prepared. EMBC’s Emergency Mommy has posted her “tried and true tactics” on having a conversation with your kids about emergencies, and since I couldn’t say it any better myself, here they are:
- Make it tangible. Talk about local emergency risks in realistic terms – what they might look like and sound like and why it’s important to prepare. I found it useful to focus on the science of potential hazards, helping build curiosity and interest not fear.
- Involve kids in your emergency planning. The more they take part, the more likely they’ll remember what to do. Plus, they may have some good ideas!
- Review your plan regularly. Go over where your family will reunite if separated during a disaster. Talk about who their emergency school or daycare pick-ups are and which people in the neighbourhood can be counted on for help. More repetition means more retention.
- Take a prep tour. Go around the house and show your kids where emergency supplies are kept. Depending on their age, it’s not a bad idea to give them the 101 on using a fire extinguisher.
- Hold practice drills. It’s like developing preparedness muscle memory. The more familiar kids get with a routine, the less likely they are to panic. This is one situation where you want your child on auto-pilot. I do this with “Drop, Cover, Hold On”. Fire drills are another good example.
- Role play. This is a fun way to test if your chats are sinking in. Outline a potential scenario and have your child share what they’d do. If necessary, provide gentle reminders and prompts. Repeat the scenario in a few days or until you think the info has stuck.
- Be adaptable. Living in Victoria, my primary preparedness concern is earthquakes. At first, the concept was pretty abstract to my daughter, but the conversations and questions have gotten more focused with age. Be prepared to up your game as your child gets older.
- Follow their lead. As most moms know, kids are pretty good at signaling how much information they’re ready to handle. Let them set the pace using their questions as a guide.
- Be reassuring. Don’t get so focused on the nuts-and-bolts of preparedness that you forget to remind your children they’re safe and protected. I routinely tell my daughter the hazards we discuss may never happen, but that it’s my job to keep her safe and big part of that is teaching her what to expect and do.