British Columbia

British Columbians far less prepared for emergencies than they think, new survey finds

Although British Columbians think they're ready for emergencies, a new survey suggests only seven per cent are truly ready.

New Ipsos Reid survey says 34% of British Columbians think they're prepared for an emergency but only 7% are

Simply having an emergency kit is not enough, says the B.C. and Yukon branch of St. John Ambulance. (iStock)

This week marks Emergency Preparedness Week and recent events have only emphasized the need for British Columbians to be prepared when disaster strikes.

B.C.'s Interior was subjected to a weekend of flooding from heavy rainfall and melting snow with more rain expected in the days ahead.

Last week, a pair of earthquakes, magnitude 6.2 and 6.3 respectively, rocked the Yukon and northern B.C.

But a new Ipsos Reid survey issued by St. John Ambulance British Columbia and Yukon found while many British Columbians may think they're emergency ready, only seven per cent technically are.

While a general rule of thumb is to have enough water, non-perishable foods and cash to sustain your family for at least 72 hours, it's only one aspect of being prepared, according to Sandy Gerber, marketing director with St. John Ambulance British Columbia and Yukon.

"It's not good enough just to have a kit. You have to know what to do with these supplies," she said.

This means developing an emergency plan, getting up-to-date first aid and CPR training, she said, and maintaining supplies regularly.

It also helps to have kits not just in your house but at work and in your car, she added.

"One of the stats that I found concerning is that only two in 10 people have an emergency kit in their vehicle. That's pretty low because we spend a lot of time in our cars," she said.

Be proactive

John Stephenson, a senior vice president with First On Site Restoration, a company that helps property owners clean up after disasters, says being emergency-ready is simply a matter of being proactive.

"I think if it's not urgent enough at the time, we kind of sit back and wait until something happens and we're more reactive than proactive at times," he said.

"I think if you're somebody who has experienced a major flood or some type of disaster event, then you've probably learned your lesson by now."

Stephenson had a few tips to develop an emergency plan.

  • Understand your insurance policy and keep a photocopy of it in your emergency plan.
  • Think through what would happen if you have to leave in a moment's notice — what do you need to take with you?
  • What would happen to children if they are at school or pets that are left at home? What is the plan? Is somebody going to look after them? Is somebody going to pick them up?
  • In terms of information, keep a set of emergency contacts, family members' contact and anything else that would help if you have to leave immediately.

Listen to John Stephenson's tips for emergency preparedness on CBC's On the Island