In recent years the number of natural and geophysical disasters has been increasing. The Borgen Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to addressing poverty, hunger, and world issues, reported that in 1970 the average of natural disasters that were reported was 78. In 2004, this number jumped to 348; moreover, according to AccuWeather, since 1990, natural disasters have affected 217 million people every single year (Borgenproject.org 2015, Accuweather.com 2013).
In BC particularly, earthquakes remain an imminent threat as the province is situated on the Juan de Fuca fault line that is moving eastward under the North American plate. It is hard to predict when the inevitable major earthquake will hit, but by taking the necessary precautions to ensure that all buildings and people are equipped to handle unexpected emergencies, there is less to fear.
In addition to earthquakes, BC has faced an increase in windstorms, such last August’s, leading to the largest BC Hydro power outage in history (CBC Sept. 2015), and rainstorms, such as in last November, which lead to the closing of highways due to mudslides and flooding (CBC Nov. 2015).
How do we prepare ourselves accordingly in order to mitigate the affect of these surprise events?
The first step is to prepare an emergency plan so that every member of your household, co-op, commercial and residential buildings understand what to do if there is an earthquake or disaster. In addition to planning your course of action, some buildings and associations delegate certain tasks to certain people. Just as an office building may have a fire warden for each floor, so can landlords assign someone emergency duties such as first aid, or stewardship over a group of people.
In addition to planning for who would be involved in emergency response, we can plan how we can between respond to emergencies. While in the planning stage, we can proactively check our resources as well. Do we have emergency backup systems such as diesel generators, potable water supplies, or a landline phone?
By thinking ahead, both major and minor disasters can be resolved seamlessly. For example, the Globe and Mail highlighted the landlord’s preparedness planning of Cadillac Fairview in Toronto when in January 2005 a transformer blew leading to complete darkness, and pipes that froze and burst. Because of their meticulous emergency plan, the issues faced were considerably mitigated; moreover, they reported, “We had people from the executive vice-president level down on the site within minutes,” he said. “They worked from 7 a.m. to midnight to secure the property, minimize damage and restore power” (Globe and Mail 2005).
Another key tip to increasing your emergency plan is to know the disaster response routes in your area. These transportation routes can only be accessed by emergency vehicles during a disaster, and also will help responders to get to those who need help the quickest. To find out more about the disaster routes in your area you can check out the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure website.
Another resource that can prove invaluable to landlords wishing to brush up on their emergency preparedness knowledge is to attend free workshops provided by municipalities. In addition to providing general emergency preparedness workshops, the City of Vancouver will offer customized free emergency safety workshops tailored for whatever particular problems you think you may face (See City of Vancouver 2016). This ensures that all types of properties will be prepared for any unwarranted events.
Lastly, a key, but often overlooked step to emergency preparedness is existing organization and self reliance. In order for your property to effectively manage any emergencies that may come its way, you must make sure that everything is operating smoothly under non-emergency environments first. Emergency preparedness is developed on the principle of proactive planning, so getting all affairs in order is a pre-requisite.
As an extension, self-reliance, and personal emergency preparedness will help you to better serve others in the case of an event. This can be done by keeping and maintaining a 72-hour kit, a food storage, and all other precautions listed previously.
By preparing ourselves and our properties for emergencies we can mitigate the major effects of natural disasters, and also rest assured that we can handle any situation that comes our way.
AccuWeather.com. November 15, 2013. Steady Increase in Climate Related Natural Disasters.
Borgenproject.org. June 2015. Are Natural Disasters Increasing? See: http://borgenproject.org/natural-disasters-increasing/
CBC.ca November 27, 2015. Rainstorm closes B.C. highways. See: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/rainstorm-closes-b-c-highways-1.1112857
CBC.ca. September 1, 2015. B.C storm: ‘Largest outage event in BC Hydro history. See: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/b-c-storm-hydro-1.3210919
CBC.ca. January 20, 2015. Megathrust earthquake off B.C coast extremely likely, but might not strike for centuries. See: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/megathrust-earthquake-off-b-c-coast-extremely-likely-but-might-not-strike-for-centuries-1.2917937
City of Vancouver. 2016. Free Emergency Planning Workshops. See: http://vancouver.ca/home-property-development/free-emergency-workshops.aspx
Globe and Mail. July, 2005. Landlords prepare for any emergency. See: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/landlords-prepare-for-any-emergency/article18240612/