Prepa­ra­tion is the best line of de­fence

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - CONVERSATIONS - GARY SPENCE

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

PHOTO: DEREK FLYNN/FAIR­FAX NZ

Marl­bor­ough Emer­gency ser­vices of­fi­cer Gary Spence.

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