Following an unusually high number of disasters that the Canadian Red Cross responded to in 2013, Canadians are being urged to take steps to be ready for the unexpected. The Red Cross is sounding the alarm on the need for personal preparedness as part of Emergency Preparedness Week, sponsored by Stantec in Saskatchewan, an annual awareness campaign to encourage Canadians to be better prepared to deal with disasters and emergencies.
“The Red Cross believes that individuals and families must take responsibility for their own safety and well-being,” said Kim MacLean, Disaster Management Manager for the Canadian Red Cross in Saskatchewan. “During a disaster it is critical that families take steps to prepare themselves for a minimum of 72 hours as resources can be overwhelmed and residents cannot expect a response within hours – it could be days.”
In 2013, the Canadian Red Cross helped more than 91,000 people in response to 2,800 emergencies – that’s an average of almost eight emergencies every day. More than four times as many people received assistance from the Red Cross in 2013 compared with 2012. In Saskatchewan, 2,355 people received Red Cross assistance because of disasters.
Many Canadians don’t believe a disaster will happen in their community. A 2012 poll, completed by Ipsos on behalf of the Canadian Red Cross, found 66 per cent of respondents had not taken steps to prepare for a disaster; the main reason cited is the perceived rarity of a disaster occurring in their area.
“Stantec believes in the Red Cross and the work it does to help our people and communities reduce their vulnerability in emergency situations. As a company that works with natural and built environments, we understand the vital importance of these disaster mitigation efforts. We must prepare ourselves to the best of our abilities. The Red Cross teaches us how,” says Rory Picklyk, VP for Stantec, Saskatchewan Region.
There are three simple steps Canadians can take to help prepare themselves and their families:
1) Know the risks in your community.
2) Have a plan so that each family member knows what to do in an emergency.
3) Get an emergency preparedness kit with enough supplies for each family member, including: non-perishable food, water, a manual can opener, flashlights and radios, cash in small bills, and special needs items like diapers or medications.
For more information, visit www.redcross.ca/ready. Canadians can also learn more about emergency kits by using the Canadian Red Cross Preparedness Calculator on Facebook [link to https://www.facebook.com/canadianredcross/app_606156969424329].