The Saanich Peninsula faces more than just earthquakes in terms of natural emergencies, says Mike Harman, Sidney Volunteer Fire Department Deputy Chief, in encouraging residents to prepare themselves. A weather event that mixes snow with heavy winds leading to a power outage has the potential to leave residents unprepared. (Photo courtesy of Daniel Brimacombe)

The Saanich Peninsula faces more than just earthquakes in terms of natural emergencies, says Mike Harman, Sidney Volunteer Fire Department Deputy Chief, in encouraging residents to prepare themselves. A weather event that mixes snow with heavy winds leading to a power outage has the potential to leave residents unprepared. (Photo courtesy of Daniel Brimacombe)

Sidney emergency official says residents should be self-sufficient for at least seven days

Sidney Volunteer Fire Department Deputy Chief Mike Harman says threats go beyond earthquakes

Prepare yourself and your family for at least seven days of self-sufficiency after an emergency.

Mike Herman, deputy fire chief with the Sidney Volunteer Department, has historically shared this figure whenever he and Jackie Goodwin, neighbourhood emergency preparedness program coordinator with Peninsula Emergency Measures Organization (PEMO), have appeared before audiences to speak about preparing for emergencies. The figure itself comes from a publicly available document titled A Guide to Emergency Preparedness in the Capital Region.

“Provincially, they are saying three days, but locally here we are saying, ‘Be ready for seven days,’” said Harman. “Seven days is reality. Seven (days) is probably the earliest.”

Harman said it is hard to measure how aware the public is about emergency preparedness. “Over the last two-and-a-half years, working through a pandemic, the public education component and the interaction between our emergency management team and residents was minimal, just to protect residents and to protect staff.” But that is about to change with a public education campaign.

Harman added later that anyone interested in learning more about emergency preparedness can reach out to the fire department to book an appointment with him and Goodwin to talk about emergency preparedness. These sessions will also see Harman and Goodwin distribute A Guide to Emergency Preparedness in the Capital Region. It not only describes what residents should do before, during and after emergencies, but also spells out a step-by-step guide toward reaching seven days of self-sufficiency within 26 weeks, so as to not overwhelm them.

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While Sidney specifically and the Saanich Peninsula generally may not experience the same type of emergencies as intensely and frequently as other parts of the world — see the recent storms that battered the eastern seaboard of the United States and Canada — residents should prepare themselves for a variety of emergencies and not just earthquakes, as per the region’s proximity to an active earthquake zone, said Harman.

“So many people in the community, they focus solely on earthquakes and we haven’t had one in a long time that has been catastrophic and that has impacted everyday life,” said Harman. “But I always like to (point out), what about a heat event, what about a weather event (like snow mixed with heavy wind leading to a power outage)? None of us are prepared for that because it is not everyday life.”

Harman said the best measure is probably the number of people who have registered with the Saanich Peninsula Alert and Harman is encouraging individuals to sign up for the system. “That is where we want people to get to — drive them to the alert, so at least they get notified,” he said.

This said, getting notified is a necessary but insufficient condition. “It’s one thing to receive an alert, but if you are not prepared, once you receive the alert, then you are still not going to be prepared and have what you need to get through the week.”

Harman suggests that residents game-plan for emergencies twice a year — during fire prevention week (which runs Oct. 9 and 15 this year) and then during emergency preparedness week in May.

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wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Emergency PreparednessSaanich Peninsula