You can’t turn on any form of media lately without hearing about natural disasters. Whether it is the 7.7 quake on Haida Gwaii or Hurricane Sandy, we are humbled that there is precious little that we can do when a disaster strikes, or can we? 

Awareness and preparation is key, folks. I personally live on Vancouver Island, but I have been all over Canada and experienced my fair share of disasters… Wind storms, ice storms, quakes (not the “big one” yet, thank heavens), debilitating snow storms. Why do I live here, you may ask? I haven’t always. Before living on the Coast, I lived on the prairies and faced a different host of emergencies there… thunder storms, twisters, ice storms, twisters, car trouble. It doesn’t matter where you are, there will be risks. 

Many organizations are being inundated with requests for emergency kits as these natural disasters are top of mind. The sad state is that within a few weeks of any disaster, folks get back to their ordinary routine and if they have not gotten motivated, may procrastinate and leave their preparedness plans on the wayside. 

I must beseech you all… plan now and review regularly! You never know when an emergency will strike and a little bit of preparation will mean that you won’t add to the urgency of an emergency, taxing what are sure to be stretched resources.

The first thing is to know your risks and take measures to mitigate them… Believe it or not, it is a good idea to have multiple kits…

  • for outdoor adventures
  • for your vehicle
  • for your home

 To prepare yourself, there are many resources at your disposal.  Some of my favourite preparedness sites:

 Get Prepared – A French and English preparedness site

Public Safety Canada

72 Hours – A San Francisco multi-lingual site

Red Cross Canada emergency preparedness

BC Provincial Emergency Preparedness (PEP)

American Emergency Preparedness (including FEMA links)

Emergency Preparedness Pocket Guide (easy to print and covers the basics for many disasters)

USGS real time earthquake map

Environment Canada’s Official Weather Warnings  

Poke through these sites to find which one speaks to you the best. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to prepare so long as you take some action! Of course the more, the better and you should review and refresh your kit regularly, rotating foodstuffs to ensure freshness.

The thing to be truly mindful of is that during an emergency, you and your family could be on your own for an extended period of time. Emergency services may not be readily available, as increasing demands are placed on responders. It may take emergency workers some time to get to you as they help those in most critical need. As well, access to phones, gas, water, sewer and electrical services may be cut off. Learning how to be personally prepared is vital.

So, when you feel a tremor or are in the middle of a disaster, what do you do? Beyond making preparations, factual information will help you assess the situation to make the best use of your resources. I am a strong proponent and champion of Social Media. In the event of a disaster, don’t add to system burdens. Text messages and Tweets are far less demanding than phone calls. You can stay tuned to local resources easily if you pre-plan who you should follow. It is also helpful to know what resources are reliable instead of anecdotal. In following the quake on Haida Gwaii, hash tags like #earthquake and #tsunami were highly viewed but… it helps to know how to sort the wheat from the chaff. 

We’ve put together a Twitter list of feeds that are excellent at sharing information and we will be adding to a list of Twitter Feeds that are good to follow for emergency resources. You can start by going to and pick and choose the feeds that are ideal to follow for you, or subscribe to the entire list if it suits your needs. We’ve chosen feeds that are more fact-based rather than anecdotal.

So no matter where you are, do yourself and your family a favour and be ready. Success stories are so much better than tragedies. Be safe folks!