Three years ago Langford Emergency Social Services planned a public meeting and alerted 12,000 households. About six people showed up.
Three major earthquakes later and it was standing room only Monday night at Langford fire station No. 1, as ESS reminded people how to protect themselves and their family in case of a natural disaster.
The meeting was prompted by the earthquake and tsunami that has devastated northern Japan, and by recent earthquakes in Chile and New Zealand. Vancouver Island lies west of the major fault line known as the Cascadia subduction zone, where the Juan de Fuca plate is pushing under the North American plate.
ESS deputy director Debbie Preston stressed that families need to make a plan and to prepare their home in case they need to live for days without power or running water.
Residents are recommended to have emergency kits of food, water, clothing, sleeping bags, radios and flashlights in their homes, and “grab and go” bags to flee their home on the fly. Families also need to have a plan that involves knowing the exits out of their home and prearranged meeting places when a family is split between work and school.
Preston said the small details count – have shoes near your bed in case an earthquake shatters windows at night. Women who normally wear heels should carry emergency flats. A household’s water tank should be secure – it could be the sole source of water if municipal lines are broken.
“People used to avoid coming around the emergency preparedness tables we’d set up at markets and malls,” Preston said. “But now they come up and ask for information. They come and tell us they are getting prepared.”
To contact Langford ESS, call 250-857-0118 or leave a message with Langford Fire Rescue at 250-478-5510.