The 2015 Great ShakeOut

Karen perfecting the drop, cover and hold-on technique
Karen perfecting the drop, cover and hold-on technique

Last week, the ePACT team participated in one of our favorite events of the year – The Great ShakeOut! For those of you who haven’t heard of the ShakeOut, it is the world’s largest earthquake drill with over 22.6 million people participating across the globe.

The ShakeOut is not only a great opportunity to practice an earthquake drill, but also a reminder to brush up on all aspects of your emergency plans. At ePACT, we do this every year, going through our plans as a team on the day of the event. We hope it inspires you to practice and review your own plan with your sports team, school, office, camp and family.

Identify Escape Routes

The first thing our team reviewed was the escape routes out of the office. When first discussed, the majority of the ePACT team thought it was an easy answer, with 4 exits. Once we explored this a bit more, we realized that there are actually 6 exits out of our building, with 4 on the bottom floor and 2 on the top floor.

Each day we spend hours at home, at the office, or at the hockey rink, where coming and going becomes a habit. Take a few moments to refresh yourself on all the exits in the buildings that you spend the most time in.

  • Do a walk around of the building. This takes just minutes to do, but quickly points out any exits that exist.
  • Draw a diagram – Not all of us are artists (this is definitely true with our team!) but a simple sketch will do the trick. Draw a quick outline of the premises while highlighting any exits, and don’t forget to do one for each floor. Kids love the treasure hunt feel if you’d like to turn it in to a fun activity!
  • Make it a game – If your children, athletes, students or campers are up for a challenge, ask them to identify as many escape routes as they can. Kudos to whoever finds the most routes out of the school, rink, recreation center, or your home.

Review Your Supplies and Equipment

Lyssa diligently checking the expiry dates on our emergency food.
Lyssa diligently checking the expiry dates on our emergency food.

Whether or not you have existing safety and preparedness supplies, the ShakeOut is a great time to review them. If you already have an emergency kit, check that the first aid kit, food and water haven’t expired, and that batteries and other electronics still work. Outside of your kit, be sure to test your smoke alarm and exit signs, as well as the expiry on fire extinguishers and other safety equipment.

The ePACT team set aside 10 minutes to do this, and were off to a great start as our emergency food and water don’t expire until 2017. Our fire extinguishers do need to undergo maintenance within the next month, so we were able to book an appointment for this. Finally, we our first aid kit was up to date, but was running low on some key supplies, like band-aids. Luckily we were able to restock these supplies after this review.

If you haven’t started an emergency kit yet, consider stocking these basic items. They’ll do the trick whether you’re stocking a kit for your family, work team, or sports association:

  • Non-perishable food and water (enough to last 3 days is ideal)
  • Space blankets
  • Flashlights and batteries
  • A first aid kit

To cater to more specific needs, think about packing items that certain individuals may require:

  • Prescription medications and medical equipment
  • Pet supplies
  • Comfort items (puzzles, stuffed animals and books are great for this)
  • Baby/infant needs

Discuss Your Plan

Emergency plans become better and better each time you discuss them! If you are building a plan from scratch or just reviewing an existing one, don’t forget these pieces:

  • The ePACT dev team discussing who does what in a disaster. Steve has the emergency kit covered!
    The ePACT dev team discussing who does what in a disaster. Steve has the emergency kit covered!

    Meeting places – A meeting place is the pre-determined spot that everyone knows to go to. This can be anything, from the school near your home, or the parking lot of the hockey arena, to the soccer field next door. For the ePACT team, the spot is Waterfront Park next to our office. Whatever you choose, be sure that children are familiar with the spot and that it’s in an open area. Bonus points if you identify multiple meeting places in case the first is inaccessible because of the disaster.

  • Who does what – Needless to say, an unexpected situation can cause some chaos. If people are assigned a specific role in an emergency, it helps them respond more quickly while helping them stay calm. Within our team, we brushed up on who is responsible for grabbing our emergency kit and who will send out important updates to the team (using our own system for email, SMS and voice communications, of course)! For your plan, be sure that someone is in charge of communicating key messages to parents, friends or loved ones, and another is responsible for a head-count in large groups. A great role for youth is grabbing the emergency kit and other supplies.
  • Review likely scenarios – Depending on where you live, you may be more prone to an earthquake, a tornado, or a flood. Know which disasters are common in your area, and discuss what should be done in each. In Vancouver, two likely disasters are earthquakes and floods. We practiced how to drop, cover, and hold for an earthquake, and then evacuated the building. In the case of a flood, we covered safety guidelines, like how you should never walk or drive across moving water – even if it looks shallow. The Get Prepared website  is a great resource that we refer to for common hazards and how you should respond to them.

We were proud to join the millions of people all over the world who participated in the ShakeOut this year. This outstanding event really opens up dialogue about emergency preparedness and natural disasters, and is the perfect time to practice and improve. We certainly want to help families and organizations with their preparedness, and hope that our drill gives you some ideas for your own!

If you have any other questions about emergency preparedness or would like to share your ideas for a drill, please connect with us on Twitter or Facebook.

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