Preparation is the best line of defence
It was Geoffrey Palmer who once said, ‘‘Sometimes it does us a power of good to remind ourselves that we live where two tectonic plates meet in a somewhat lonely stretch of wind-swept ocean just above the roaring forties.
‘‘If you want drama - you’ve come to the right place.’’
The quote is on a brass plaque near the entrance to the National Crisis Management Centre in the Beehive. Not a truer word could be said if you consider that in Marlborough we may experience earthquakes, wild fires, storms and flooding, and not uncommonly at the same time.
Emergency events can be hugely distressing not only to those who are affected but also for those tasked with responding.
However, they can also bring us together and shape us into who we are, not only as individuals, but as families and communities.
Ask anyone what was the one of the first things they did during, or after, an emergency event and they’ll say, ‘‘We checked on our neighbours and the people down the road.’’
Caring for others is what being in a community is about.
We cannot change an emergency event. An emergency event has no consideration for you, your family or your community.
An emergency event happens when and where it likes and often without warning, but with some planning and preparation we can reduce the affect it will have on us.
You may have heard of the preparedness message that says that you could be on your own for three to five days before help arrives. Well that’s not necessarily true - you may have friends, family and neighbours.
Collaborate with them and let them work with you. Together, you are more able to survive an emergency.
Develop a plan as a family and neighbourhood on how you can do this. If your home is structurally safe that is the best place for you to be.
However, assistance could take some time to reach you so think about what resources you have or need such as food, water, warm gear, torches, tarpaulins etc in advance. Be prepared.
In other cases, you may be forced to evacuate your home. Have a bag ready with necessary items for being away from home. Pre-arrange to stay with family or friends in case this happens.
If you get separated, plan a place to meet. Who will pick up the children from school? What about elderly family members?
Having a plan may mean less panicking on the day.
November’s 7.8-magnitude earthquake happened just after midnight. Have a look at your bedroom and identify heavy items that may fall on you such as book cases, heavy ornaments, pictures, etc, and move them.
The best thing is to stay in bed and put your pillow over your head for protection. Teach the family to do the same thing.
Don’t jump out of bed in the dark. Smashed glass and bare feet don’t mix.
Keep a spare pair of shoes under your bed for protection and a torch to help you see.
Check the getthru.co.nz website or contact Marlborough Emergency Management for information.
After recent emergency events in Marlborough, some businesses may be experiencing changes in how they normally function – perhaps disruption to supply and delivery as well as extra costs and delays.
Think about a business continuity plan. What is going to be your plan B? There are numerous resources online that are available to assist you.
- Gary Spence is a Marlborough Civil Defence emergency services officer
Marlborough Emergency services officer Gary Spence.