How prepared is your household for an emergency?

Communities across the nation, including Manitoulin Island, have put in place formal emergency plans that outline who, what and where those communities’ responses to an emergency will be. Lines of communication are clearly laid out and areas of responsibility defined. But with the advent of the extreme cold that has enveloped much of North America in recent weeks it might do well for each of us to reflect on what shape our own personal and family emergency planning is in.

With the introduction of just-in-time inventory, the stocks of most stores are vastly limited over what once graced their backroom storage space. Generally, what you see on the shelves is what you can get and should the supply flow falter those shelves deplete with alarming rapidity. Many of those who grew up in the shadow of “the greatest generation” can recall brimming pantries holding serious quantities of non-perishable food items. Depression, war and rationing, it seems, can attune someone to a lifelong awareness of the fragility of plenty.

In counterpoint, recent media stories have focussed on the latest generation’s penchant for readymade food, fast food delivery services and an endemic inability to prepare meals “from scratch.”

Prudence, we would posit, lies somewhere between these two poles.

Just as preparing a fire escape plan for your home is a wise course of action for any family, emphasised regularly by handouts coming home in a child’s backpack, so it could be suggested that taking a few moments to consider how well prepared your family might be should the supply of food, fuel and medicines be interrupted for any extended period of time.

This is not at all a hypothetical possibility. Just ask those who endured Great Ice Storm of 1998 that swept across eastern Ontario into to southern Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia or the blizzards of 2003 which brought life on most of the eastern seaboard and a goodly chunk of middle North America to a sudden and brutal standstill. Disasters are not a question of “if” but rather of “when.” A little forethought and planning can bridge that vast gulf between disaster and inconvenience.

We have grown complacent, even in our more rural and remote communities, believing that our technology and modern society are up to any challenge. But Mother Nature’s scale can be vast and far outstrip the resources of any state or community.

So, as we bundle up in warm fuzzy socks with a hot beverage and gaze out upon the chilly winter wonderland outside our windows, it might be a good time to take stock of how we could meet the challenges of downed power grid that lasts more than a few hours or a day or two. How long will that chill outside take to become an unwelcome visitor under your roof? Take time to discover where the relevant shelters are in your community and perhaps lay in a bit of kit that would come in handy in the event of disaster.

It’s only prudent.