In any disaster situation, what makes recovery for the affected community more difficult? Lack of basic amenities such as water, food, shelter and medical supplies.
It doesn’t have to be difficult though — not if majority of the community is prepared for the worst, said Al Wickheim.
That’s the idea behind a recent emergency-kit awareness program that’s circling the local community. The man behind it, Al Wickham, community coordinator for Otter Point, Juan De Fuca Emergency management, has been coming up with more and more initiatives to get more locals involved — and talking — of such kits that may potentially save their lives.
“If something major happens around here, it’s not just Otter Point, it’s everybody. We’re all in the same boat here… it’s not only about first-aid, it’s about community restructure,” Wickheim said. “If we can connect the people with the assets in terms of skills and equipment and those with liabilities, such as elderly people or people who are trapped or people with medical issues.”
Wickheim says the first step to a solid survival/emergency kit starts with the retailers offering certain items on discount — stuff like batteries, toilet paper, canned food, flashlights, radios, walkie-talkies, portable water purifiers and so on.
“If you have a product that you feel may be included in a survival kit, then get in touch with me and I’ll see if it’s kit-worthy. What I’d like to see a list of 10 or 15 listed items that we strongly recommend,” he said, noting that after a retailer lists an item, when a person comes in to buy said item for their survival kit, they get checked off a list (just so that individual can’t get the same item at a discounted price over and over).
In the end, it’s about reducing costs for a good cause.
“It makes it all more affordable for people who can’t lay down $200 for a top-tier emergency kit,” he said.
Wickheim also pointed towards items that encompass general hygiene – as lack thereof creates a prime factor for infection in a disaster scenario.
“Rubbing alcohol, hand hygiene, oral hygiene, these are good hygienic practices that help make a recovery so much better, because then you’re not dealing with a bunch of sick people as well as a whole lot of displaced people,” he said.
Understandably, not all items can be discounted, like say, camp stoves. However Wickheim notes the cost of fuel for camp stoves can be reduced as, once again, in a disaster scenario, fuel can quickly become a rare and scarce commodity.
While recent reports of earthquakes looming on Vancouver Island have succumbed to sensationalism, there’s no denying the potential damage and crippling aftermath an earthquake/tsunami scenario can cause on the island community.
Same reason why Wickheim wants to encourage both citizens and retailers to start taking action.
“If merchants become a bit more aware of items that may be wanted and can stock and sell more, this takes the burden off the supply chain in a time of acute need,” he said. “It also speeds access to needed items and so promotes a more effective home, community, district, and broader regional recovery.”
For more information, you can reach Al Wickheim at 250-642-5124 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.