SERC Emergency Coordinator Darin Driedger shows a simple emergency kit. (GREG VANDERMEULEN/Winkler Times)
Darin Driedger is hoping this week’s Alert Ready test will focus people on emergency preparedness.
The Emergency Coordinator for SERC (Southern Emergency Response Committee), Driedger said they are excited about the capability to reach all smart phone users within a specific area. The test was scheduled for May 9.
“Everyone’s going to get an alert on their wireless phones now, for emergency situations in their geographical locations,” he said. “This is a new technology we have here in Canada. It’s going to allow emergency planners to broadcast emergency alerts to people quicker... and more efficiently than we have ever before.”
Driedger said while the change will allow them to reach more people than ever, people still have a role to play in reaching out to others. “Whether it’s their neighbours, family members or friends, if they know someone that’s near them (and does not have a smart phone) keep them in mind when these alerts do come across,” he said.
Driedger added that the alerts are for initial notification only.
“Subsequent updates or further instruction (you) will still be required to obtain that through local media, whether it’s a municipal website, local media website, social media, etc,” he said.
Getting the alert is only part of the process. Driedger said people should also know what to do, have a plan and be prepared.
“Having a plan for your family... is critical,” he said.
Driedger said it can take as little as 20 minutes to make a plan, and guides for that are available at www.getprepared.ca.
Having an out of town contact for all family members is also important.
“If an emergency happens during the day, family members are often spread out,” he said. “You have some who might be in school, some are at work, so it’s not likely you’re all going to be in the same location.”
Having an emergency kit that is portable is also important.
Driedger said kits can range in simplicity, but said the important thing is to get started.
“Many of the items you need in a basic kit, most people already have in their house,” he said.
www.getprepared.ca has this advice for people making a kit they advise should make you self-sufficient for 72 hours.
“You may have some of the items already, such as food, water and a battery operated or wind-up flashlight. The key is to make sure they are organized and easy to find,” they said. “Would you be able to find your flashlight in the dark? Make sure your kit is easy to carry and everyone in the household knows where it is. Keep it in a backpack, duffle bag or suitcase with wheels, in an easy-to-reach, accessible place, such as your front-hall closet. If you have many people in your household, your emergency kit could get heavy. “It’s a good idea to separate some of these supplies in backpacks. That way, your kit will be more portable and each person can personalize his or her own grab-and-go emergency kit.”