By Raye Newman
You never know when it might happen, or how you will be affected. Point Roberts could be hit by floods, wildland fires, windstorms, snow and ice storms, as well as earthquakes and volcanic ash. These disasters impact everyday life. Necessities we take for granted such as food, water, power and fuel, can suddenly be in short supply.
We were lucky during the windstorm last December. PSE crews happened to be in Point Roberts, working on another project, when the storm occurred. They were able to restore power for almost everyone within five days. Under normal circumstances, given the demands of more populated areas on the mainland, it could have taken PSE many more days to get crews up here.
Are you prepared to sustain yourselves and your loved ones for a long period of time? If not, make a plan! Over the next several issues, we will show you how to: put a plan in place for your family; assemble “bug-out” bags for home and car; stay informed; and get involved.
Planning for readiness
Regardless of the type of emergency that might occur, you and your family need to take a few simple steps in advance to be ready to respond. Discuss each of these items and determine how you can best improve your readiness:
– Insurance: Are you adequately covered for the kinds of emergencies that can happen here such as fire, earth quakes, high winds and, if you are near the water, floods? If not, consider increasing your coverage.
– Smoke detectors: Have you installed smoke detectors? If not, our fire department can help. Call them for a fire safety check. They will check out your home and install smoke detectors for free! If you already have them, test them. If you use propane as a fuel, you also need carbon monoxide detectors in your home. Get them.
– Fire extinguishers: Do you have fire extinguishers? At a minimum, you should have one ABC type fire extinguisher on each floor plus one in the kitchen.
– Important papers: Are all your most important papers (passports, birth certificates, vaccination records, insurance, licenses, deeds, prescriptions, and photos of each family member) in one place, ready to take with you if need be? If you can, scan them and keep copies online, and put copies in your bug-out bag.
– Cash: If possible, have cash (Canadian and US) in smaller (not over $20) bills ready to go and adequate to sustain your family for at least several days away from home.
– Out-of-area contact: Identify a geographically distant friend or relative who is willing to act as the primary contact for every member of your family. In times of emergency, long distance text messages are among the most likely forms of communication to get through. Family members who might be separated can keep each other informed about their condition, location, and intentions by using the contact.
– Meeting place: Agree on two places to meet if a disaster occurs, one right outside your home in case of fire, and another one outside your own neighborhood if you can’t return home. Everyone needs to keep the address and phone number of this meeting place with them.
– Shut-offs: Make sure every member of your family knows how to turn off electricity, propane, and water if required.
– 911: Teach children how and when to call 911 in an emergency.