Sunday, February 25, 2007


Recently, I have been seeing ads by Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada. These ads encourage you to assemble an emergency kit to be prepared for the first 72 hours of an emergency. This is the window of time when emergency workers help those in urgent need and may not be able to help your family.

Being the type of person that I am, I make haste and get over to the website. They have an Emergency Preparedness Guide you can download and after going through it I am concerned. There are three steps: Know the risks, Make a Plan and Prepare a Kit. Sounds simple, right? It is in many ways, but I think the underlying feeling I got was - the worst is coming you had better get ready. This is not meant to sound flip, it is just a general feeling I got while visiting the site and contemplating what would lead us to such a scenario.

I love being prepared don't get me wrong. I am the mom who packs a spare outfit for when the spare outfit is dirty. I am the person our friends come to for an Advil, pad, bib, etc. when we are traveling or on an outing. I thrive on preparedness, take pride it even. This however, pushes the envelope even for me. Not the entire concept, just some of the material contained in the guide.

Step 1 is to Know the Risks, Know your Region. Below is from the guide.

"Although the consequences of disasters can be similar, knowing the risks specific to your region can help you prepare yourself better. Across Canada we face a number of hazards, from earthquakes in British Columbia, to blizzards in Nunavut, to hurricanes in New Brunswick. In addition to natural disasters there are other types of risks, such as blackouts, industrial or transportation accidents, and the possibility of acts of terrorism on Canadian soil. We need to prepare for all types of emergencies."

How on earth are we supposed to know if our region is at risk for acts of terrorism, an infectious disease breakout, or a blackout? I realize that urban areas are more likely targets for some disasters, but more and more there really are no safe areas. If there are safe areas I want to move there. The blackout in August 2003 not only effected several provinces it effected two countries. I agree that there are some disasters you can prepare for based on where you live, but I think it is naive and misleading to think we can simply put all these items in a box and be prepared. Is this supposed to make me feel better?

I live in fear everyday since becoming a parent. My heart clutches when you hear stories like Kati Kim and her children. I wonder how I would have coped, would I have been able to keep my family alive in such a situation? I pray that is never tested. I think about all the families in countries at war, how do mothers make their children feel better when they live their life in a state of emergency?

There really is nothing wrong with having some basic supplies in your home so you are prepared if your power goes out or there is a blizzard or flood. I was eight months pregnant with Rosebud when we had the blackout in August 2003, and was thankful we had water and food at home and managed quite fine for our 24 hours without power. A friend delivered her baby that day in a hospital running on auxiliary power. It is good to be prepared, no doubt.

We live in a world rife with fear. Turning on our radios, televisions and computers bring scary stories to us every day. I choose not to let fear control my life. I don't think we can ever really be fully prepared for an emergency, but I have faith that I would rise to the occasion and would fight hard to keep my family safe no matter what the situation.

We do this everyday without even realizing it. We make decisions that effect the health and well-being of our family and in a way this is about being prepared. We read books, search the Internet for answers, solicit advice from other parents and seek out people facing the same problems in their families.

Am I prepared for everything? No, certainly not. What I am prepared for, is trying to do the best by my family everyday, no matter what the situation, for the rest of my life.


bubandpie said...

It's a funny thing - on the one hand, being prepared can alleviate our anxieties, but on the other hand, the process making preparations can actually increase our fear level by forcing us to acknowledge and take seriously the possibility of disaster.

I find it helpful, though, to know that we're supposed to prepare for 72 hours. Everything I've read about emergency kits suggests x-number of litres of water per person, per day - but who knows how many days we need to prepare for?

Haley-O said...

There's preparedness and then there's anxiety.... Hard to know if "they" want us to be prepared or just perpetually anxious and, thus, controllable.... I know, intense. But, anxiety disorders are on the rise -- wonder why!?

Melanie said...

I refuse to live in fear also - so good for you! I do though, it the deep, dark night sometimes let fear creep in. The world around us almost commands it! Especially now that there are kids - there are new fears. Well done you for getting prepared. I'm afraid we've drunk all the water that was in the basement for emergencies (we had thirst emergencies, I guess) and would have to scramble for a flashlight. You've inspired me to get a little kit ready here. Thanks!

NotSoSage said...

Well said, Jen!

My suspiscion is that PSEP and other organizations like it feel as though they have to offer something to the public, but are at as great a loss as we are when it comes to this stuff. I've been to spine-chilling sessions about the impact of SARS and the fact that, years later, there still haven't been a whole lot of official changes made so that the health care and other systems can respond effectively next time.

Who can say where of what nature the next big emergency will be? But you've got me thinking about a kit, myself.


Alpha DogMa said...

I love to be organized, too. We have so much in common!
I have all the baby mementos and wedding souvenirs in large Rubbermaid containers in our basement - awaiting evacuation in case of forest fire.
The power regularly goes out (every 6 weeks or so in winter) so we have a very large stash of candles and batteries. The kids think of it as camping. We've a gas stove so we've got that back up. A kilometer from my house is the lake that is my town's water supply - so if necessary I could just fill up jugs of water from there.
We could easly do 72 hours unaided. BUT I know that once the emergency passes we (as rural dwellers) will be a very low priority in terms of distribution of aid, fuel, medicine, money (ie resupplying the bank machines), etc.
So what strikes fear in me? Not Al-Qaeda or anthrax, but asteroids. I'm serious. I fear asteroids. From outer space. WHAT!? It could totally happen!

Jenifer G. said...

Such great comments.

B&P-You said what I was trying to, that making preparations can heighten our fears. I agree knowing the number of days helps you prepare.

haley-o-I agree! i think my "preparedness" either stems from or is the reason (both?) for my anxiety.

Melanie-I am not exactly prepared, unless visiting the website counts. It is something I plan to work on though. Thirst emergency...I think would be a chocolate emergency.

Sage-Ah. I had forgotten about SARS. When Rosebud was born all the SARS ruled still applied in terms of visitors. I believe you when you say not much has been changed. That is scary.

AD-Asteroids, gosh I guess I now have something else on my list. Those gas stoves (and BBQ's) are handy, my in-laws have both and during the second day of the blackout we enjoyed a lovely pancake breakfast and BBQ dinner thanks to them. So maybe the food we had was not exactly at our house. Regardless, we had enough to last a few days. It was a fun adventure, Papoosie Girl still remembers doing puzzles and having a bath by candlelight. It wasn't exactly an "emergency" for us.

I guess that I will work on my kit, it really is a good idea, no matter what degree of being spooked it is invoking.

Mimi said...

Ah! I've been seeing these ads, too, and feeling like I need to get my act together. The idea of a rubbermaid tub full of food appeals to me. And I have a weird urge to keep an axe in the attic, because I'm haunted by the idea of Katrina victims, running up to their attics to get higher than the flood waters, only to drown once they got trapped up there. I'm terribly claustrophobic and this scares the bejesus out of me.

Mostly, I cope with my irrational fears by developing a wilfull blindness to every kind of Scary Unknown. So wind up unprepapred. But like you, if we're going out for the day, I've got the spare spare outfit and the extra spoon. Because that's not scary.

Alpha DogMa said...

Last night I dreamed about the asteroids. I blame you, Jen. I hate the asteroid dream.

Jenifer G. said...

There must be something you can put in your boxes? What repels asteroids? Please blame the, "We are not trying to scare the crap out of you organization" I do.

Sweet dreams I promise.