EDITORIAL: Emergency alert test highlights importance of disaster preparedness

Sometime just before 2 p.m. Wednesday, everyone’s smartphone will deliver an ominous tone alerting us to a disaster. Thankfully, this is just a test by the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association of the emergency system designed to help us co-ordinate in the event of a natural disaster.

We’re happy to see this done. Seismologists tell us the odds of a Magnitude 9 earthquake over the next 50 years are one in 10 – within our lifetimes or those of our children.

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North Shore Emergency Management advises people to have 72 hours worth of emergency supplies, including water, stashed at all times. Seven days’ worth, they say, would be even better.

But a 2018 study by the federal government and reported by the Globe and Mail this week found the Lower Mainland’s water infrastructure will be damaged for months – and the federal agency responsible for distributing rations doesn’t have a plan to get around on a broken transportation network. Charities and private businesses will be asked to step up, but – unlike our American counterparts – Canada does not stockpile food or water.

That should get some real alarm bells ringing. Perhaps everyone should add a few cases of water to their Christmas shopping lists.

On Wednesday, after you and your co-workers have cracked a few jokes about who got the emergency warning and who didn’t, take a minute to use your phone to call your MP.

Governments mandate all kinds of safety features like seatbelts, helmets and sprinkler systems for our own safety. With one-in-10 odds of a disaster, we think they should be prepared too.

What are your thoughts? Send us a letter via email by clicking here or post a comment below.

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