Highlands emergency co-ordinator

Highlands residents gear up for winter storms

Highlands homes are primarily dependent on wells, and this can add extra problems when a home loses power.

  • Nov. 24, 2011 8:00 a.m.

With winter looming, Highlands emergency co-ordinator Val Fletcher wants to get the word out for Highlands residents to be prepared for winter in the rural district.

It’s not uncommon for Highlands residents to lose hydro throughout the winter months, sometimes for days.

This winter is expected to be a tough one with colder than usual temperatures and increased precipitation.

In 2006, Fletcher found himself, his wife and two children at home without hydro for nearly five days. Being a longtime resident of the district, he was prepared for the outage.

Highlands homes are primarily dependent on wells, and this can add extra problems when a home loses power.

“People on wells who use electric pumps lose water when they lose hydro,” Fletcher said adding that other people in the district require pumps to access lake water as well.

When you lose water and hydro, one of the major concerns is the toilet, Fletcher said.

“You can’t flush the toilet — well except for once,” Fletcher said with a smirk.

During the outage in 2006, Fletcher would walk to a nearby lake to get a bucket water to pour into the toilet so it would flush.

“Some people would melt snow to use to flush the toilet,” Fletcher said.

Another option is a portable toilet such as a Luggable Loo. It’s a utility bucket with a snap on toilet seat. The bucket can be lined with plastic bags.

For drinking, cooking and personal hygiene Fletcher suggests people have at least four litres of water, per person, per day in an emergency kit. Other items that should be on hand are non-perishable food items for everyone in the family, including pets.

“Our biggest food problem (in 2006) was with the three cats. We ran out of cat food first, but still had human food,” Fletcher said.

Having auxiliary sources of heat such as a wood stove or propane heater are ideal, Fletcher said adding most Highlanders already have these. Other items that can be helpful are  generators and portable battery sources to power lights and other electric items.

“Our people tend to be isolated. I emphasize individual and family preparedness,” Fletcher said.

A radio, first aid kit, candles and other emergency items are always good to have for these situations.

“Typically long-term Highlands residents are prepared for everything because they have seen it all,” Fletcher said.

When preparing for an emergency whether it be a winter storm knocking out power lines or an earthquake, Fletcher suggests people have enough water, food and other supplies to last about five to seven days.

“The rule of thumb is is 72 hours, but I always say for Highlands it should be seven days,” Fletcher said explaining when there are regional issues regarding hydro, higher populated areas tend to get service quicker.

“In 1996 (snow storm) we were swapping toilet paper for bread with our neighbours,” Fletcher said.

For more information on emergency preparedness in Highlands contact Fletcher at vfletcher@highlands.ca.

 

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