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.

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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