Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Earthquake in New Zealand

Although Canada is a half a world away from New Zealand, many of us here feel shock and horror at what happened in Christchurch again yesterday - another earthquake. Whenever an earthquake strikes a populated area somewhere in the world, my heart goes out to the many people who lose their homes, their livelihood, and all too often - loved ones and friends.

My thoughts also go out to the health and medical needs for the survivors and the healthcare personnel who must provide them. To be a nurse, providing care to wounded survivors, is difficult enough, but when the nurse's home may have been destroyed or if she may have lost loved ones herself, that makes it all that more difficult.

Are you prepared in case of an emergency? The Canadian government often puts out information on producing emergency kits and keeping them close. Here in Montreal, we experienced the big ice storm in 1998, when much of the province lost power and, sadly, some people did lose their lives. Many of us said we learned from that experience and that we wouldn't be caught without emergency supplies ever again. But how many of us have kept that promise to ourselves? I have a strong feeling that would be not too many of us.

Here is what the Canadian government says should be in a minimal emergency kit in every home, from the Health Canada website:

Put together an emergency kit with enough basic supplies for at least 72 hours. Make sure your kit is easy to carry. Keep it in a backpack, duffel bag or suitcase with wheels, in an easy-to-reach place, such as your front door closet. As a minimum, the kit should contain the following:
  • two litres of water per person per day, plus water for pets;
  • a three-day supply of food (including pet food) that will not spoil, such as canned food, energy bars, dried foods (remember to replace the food and water at least once a year);
  • a manual can opener;
  • flashlight, batteries, candles and matches or lighter;
  • a battery-powered or wind-up radio, plus extra batteries;
  • a first aid kit, including such essentials as ASA, ibuprofen, anti-nausea and anti-diarrhea products;
  • special items, such as feminine hygiene products and prescription medications (In an emergency, pharmacies may be closed for some time. Talk to your doctor about preparing a "grab and go" bag with a two-week supply of your medications. Also, ask how often you should replace the medications with a fresh supply);
  • some cash (or travellers cheques) in small bills, change for telephones;
  • copies of your emergency plan, contact information and other important documents (license, birth certificate, passport, etc.) stored in a waterproof container; and
  • a change of clothing and footwear for each family member
In addition to preparing a kit, it is also a good idea to stock up on non-perishable items (e.g., toilet paper, paper towels, more candles, dried or canned foods, etc.) in case stores remain closed or you are unable to leave your home during an emergency.

Another important issue is to know where to go and what to do in case of an emergency. Do you have a "safe spot" designated for you and other family members to congregate in case your home is not accessible? Do you have phone numbers (cell phones, most likely in emergencies) of people who you would need to get in touch with?

Now is as good a time as any to get your things together. As we can see at what happened in NZ or in fires in California late last year, we just never know when we may need to take care of ourselves.

1 comment:

Patrick Roden said...

I worked in Christchurch in the 80's and I love that city. My heart is broken and my prayers are with the community.

RNs were called "sister" historically, and being male they didn't know what to call me...so I got nicknamed "Mr-Sister!" A term I never warmed up to...

Godspeed Christchurch,

Patrick Roden