As Sidney gets ready to host an exhibition on emergency preparedness, local officials are noting a positive trend that could nonetheless be stronger.
“Generally, the public is becoming more prepared for emergencies, but there is still more work to do,” said Meghan Mason, communications manager with the District of North Saanich. It is organizing the Peninsula Emergency Preparedness Exhibition as a joint effort with the Town of Sidney, the District of Central Saanich, and the Peninsula Emergency Measures Organization (PEMO). The event will take place at 2245 Oakville Ave. in Sidney from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Consider sign-up numbers for the Saanich Peninsula Alert System. Some 5,000 residents in Sidney, Central Saanich and North Saanich have subscribed to the system since its introduction 2017, said Mason. By way of background though, the three communities have a total population of 39,735 in 2016, according to the 2016 census. In other words, just over 12 per cent of area residents would receive a notice.
Provincial findings also suggest British Columbians still need to more to prepare themselves.
A slight majority have an emergency response plan, but few say it is a complete plan or that is written down.
Overall, 54 per cent of British Columbians say their household has an emergency response plan, although only 13 per cent describe their plan as complete, according to the 2018 Personal Preparedness Survey Report. “And among those with a plan, only about one-third (36 per cent) say that at least some of the plan is written down,” it reads.
Geography and sociology influence emergency preparedness levels, the report suggest, with Vancouver Island residents ranking among the most likely to have some plan. Home owners and older residents are also among the prepared. “Renters, lower income households and single person households are the least likely to have a plan,” it reads.
So what are the barriers and challenges facing British Columbians to prepare a plan?
They include “personal laziness” with 27 per cent, “lack of knowledge” with 26 per cent and “lack of time” with 22 per cent. “Those who have not created any type of plan are much more likely to mention laziness, knowledge and not feeling the risk is worth the effort,” it reads.
Looking at specific emergencies, more two-thirds of British Columbians (67 per cent) say they are very or somewhat concerned about an earthquake. Also high on the list of concern are power outages (59 per cent), followed by severe weather (57 per cent) and wildfire (51 per cent).
Municipalities are working regionally through joint efforts such as the Local Government Emergency Program Advisory Commission to raise awareness and improve local capacities to respond to emergency situations, she said.
Mason said the exhibition will help individuals and families become more prepared by making an emergency plan, getting an emergency kit, and knowing the risks of major disasters in the region. To underscore these risk, the exhibition includes a Quake Cottage that simulates the effects and movements of a Magnitude 8 seismic event.
For more information, see prepareyourself.ca for a comprehensive guide to emergency preparedness in the Capital Region.