Canada: New study sheds light on personal preparedness
Earthquakes, wildfires, extended power outages and severe weather emerged as some of the top hazards that concern British Columbians, according to a recent Ipsos poll commissioned by Emergency Management BC.
Undertaken in a bid to gauge the extent of personal preparedness throughout the province, the survey tapped more than 1,200 British Columbians to determine their knowledge of the particular hazards that threaten them and their communities, and their level of personal preparedness.
“Personal preparedness plays a critical role in determining to what extent we’ll be able to respond to, and recover from, emergencies,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “Until now, however, we haven’t had much reliable data to quantify our collective level of readiness. These survey findings will help focus our public-education campaigns and allow us to set a baseline from which we can measure progress going forward.”
According to the survey, most residents can accurately determine threats according to their own geographic vulnerability. For example, most coastal residents living in Vancouver and on Vancouver Island express concerns over the threat posed by tsunamis and earthquakes. In contrast, those living in the Interior and the North are more likely to cite wildfires and floods as hazards.
Moreover, although 54% of respondents state that they have drafted an emergency plan, only 13% say it is complete. Most households have emergency supplies for up to three days, though in many cases, important items are missing. Four in 10 British Columbians report that they are equipped with an emergency kit in their car, while only three in 10 have a kit at work or a “grab-and-go” bag at home.
“Personal laziness” and “apathy” were cited as primary reasons why respondents have not invested in an emergency kit or developed an emergency plan.
“Unfortunately, an actual emergency is the wake-up call for far too many of us. By then, it’s too late,” said Jennifer Rice, Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness.
The survey also highlighted how few British Columbians have purchased insurance coverage for the hazard that concerns them most.
Less than one-half of Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island residents noted that they are insured against earthquakes, while less than one-half of the population in the Southern Interior and the North believe they are covered for wildfires. Most respondents with insurance indicated that they understand their coverage “somewhat well”. However, many admitted their knowledge is not extensive — demonstrating the need to improve consumer education of the insurance protection that may be available to residents in the province.
“Preparedness doesn’t have to be an insurmountable task,” added Rice. “I encourage British Columbians to visit the PreparedBC website and follow @PreparedBC on Twitter for easy and accessible tips. Even one step today means you’re better prepared for tomorrow.”
- 1,206 British Columbians completed the online survey in December 2017.
- In Metro Vancouver and on Vancouver Island, approximately 80% of survey respondents listed an earthquake as the hazard that most concerns them. Wildfires are most worrisome to 73% of residents in the Southern Interior and 77% of those in the North.
- Renters, low-income households and younger British Columbians are less likely to have an emergency plan or supplies.
- For respondents with three days of emergency supplies, only 60% have at least four litres of water per person per day, and less than half have cash in small bills, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, a whistle or a dust mask.
- Lack of knowledge of what to include and a lack of time to prepare are additional challenges that prevented respondents from establishing an emergency plan and assembling an emergency kit.