Don’t be underprepared for emergencies

Recently I started watching a TV show called Alone, where 10 contestants are dropped off separately in remote locations around Chilko Lake, B.C. They are allowed to choose 10 items out of a pre-approved list of 40 to bring with them, and are also supplied with their own camera equipment to film themselves.

The premise of the show is simple: Last person standing wins $500,000. The show bills the participants as “trained survival experts” (don’t try this at home) which is usually backed up when they are introduced.

Some are ex-military, and others are guides. One U.K. contestant had a PhD and studies Palaeolithic animal processing, and another from the U.S. Virgin Islands lived in a primitive shelter for seven years.

One way or another, everyone on the show has far more knowledge and experience in survival situations than the average person.

It got me thinking about the past couple of years in B.C., where we’ve seen a global pandemic, heat dome, flooding and wildfires, not to mention the recent supply chain disruptions and panic buying in the northwest.

Luckily, I have not been affected by any of those events nearly to the extent of other people. I’m doubly lucky because I wasn’t particularly prepared for any of them.

Canada just recorded its first cases of the Omicron variant, which the WHO has said poses a “very high” global risk. Winter is sure to bring its fair share of storms, power outages and adverse conditions, and there is always the threat of an earthquake or rail disaster.

“Prepping” can be misunderstood and conflated with paranoia, building an elaborate fallout shelter or stockpiling weapons.

In the vast majority of situations, it won’t be necessary to hit the woods, build a shelter or take any other extreme action. However, everyone should work on being more prepared for emergencies.

In fact, our municipal, provincial and federal governments actively encourage members of the public to take steps to prepare for emergencies and natural disasters.

This figure has probably grown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but in 2014, Statistics Canada reported that under half of Canadians live in households that have engaged in a moderately high or high number of emergency planning activities.

That would include setting aside an emergency supply kit, creating a contact plan to get in touch with separated household members and keeping copies of important documents, among others.

Younger people are less likely to have an emergency kit in their household, as are renters. But it doesn’t have to be that way, because putting together a kit and a plan can be a fun exercise, and it’s easier than you’d think.

The provincial government has an emergency management webpage with helpful links to preparedness guides and resources. There is even a helpful guide for putting together emergency supplies on a tight budget.

A report from BC Hydro last month estimated that people in northern B.C. were generally more prepared than people elsewhere in the province for power outages.

Still, it found that British Columbians are mostly overconfident and underprepared for storm-related power outages. I would guess that findings would be similar with other types of scenarios.

Don’t be underprepared!