Making emergencies manageable
May 6, 2014
By Jenn Watt
In August of 2006, while many were struggling without power following a tornado that rolled through Haliburton County, Marci Mandel and Alan Clark were making the best of it with their neighbours.
The couple, who have a water-access home on Devil’s Lake near Minden, were prepared for an emergency with extra water, a back-up generator and plenty of fuel.
“The barbecue was used a lot for cooking. We had friends over. People had never been to our place before. It was a party. It was an adventure. We made the most of it,” said Mandel.
Mandel and Clark bought their property in 1992, moving up fulltime in 1995.
After a couple of stressful power outages, they figured out what supplies they needed to make sure they could get by without hydro.
“You get burned a few times and then you learn. You’re more prepared each time something happens. Also because we’re boat access, we were staying in. We had to be self-reliant and had a cold cellar with extra food and a freezer with extra milk. We had all that. Also, because we’re a bit remote, I’d taken a wilderness first aid course because you just don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Mandel.
While Mandel and Clark are more prepared than most, Haliburton County Paramedic Service chief Craig Jones said everyone should have enough food and water to get by for 72 hours during an emergency.
“It’s thinking ahead and being prepared for those emergencies. [For example], what is going to happen when the power goes out? I’m not going to have water. What do I need for lighting? What do I need for food? Those kinds of proactive, preventative preparedness steps to take,” he said.
The paramedic service is spending this week spreading the word about the importance of being prepared. Each day they are sharing tips on their Facebook page (www.facebook.com/haliburtoncountyparamedicservice) and Twitter feed (@HaliburtonMedic) and information magnets have been distributed for free pick-up at all of the county’s libraries as well as at the Minden county office, visitor tourism information centre and the Haliburton ambulance base.
Emergency personnel want everyone to be able to get by for 72 hours in order to allow them to get to those who are in greater need of help.
“In the event of a large-scale emergency, we don’t want everyone burdening the system: the responders, the community. We need to deal with the vulnerable people. The thought is if you’re agile and able to take care of yourself, be prepared to deal by yourself,” said Jones.
According to the government of Canada, an emergency kit should include two litres of water per person per day; food that won’t spoil; a flashlight and batteries; first-aid kit; medications; cash; an extra set of keys; radio; manual can opener; and a copy of your emergency plan.
Jones adds to that matches and candles.
Like Mandel, many in the county are already quite adept at getting by, he said.
“We in a rural environment are very good at that. We hunker down and take care of ourselves. We have our friends over and have barbecues, we do what we can do,” Jones said.
Even so, he said, everyone should make sure they have an emergency kit and a plan that everyone is aware of.
For more information, go to www.getprepared.ca or call paramedic services at 705-457-1616.