Ready for the Big One?

Most British Columbians ignore calls for emergency preparedness

Despite repeated media campaigns and shocking images of devastation from other parts of the world, the vast majority British Columbians remain stubbornly unprepared for an earthquake.

Provincial emergency officials estimate only 14 per cent of British Columbians are prepared for the inevitable big one.

Last October, 470,000 people registered in The Great British Columbia Shake Out, a provincewide earthquake drill aimed at preparing everyone in B.C. This year, organizers hope to see that number increase.

But despite the co-ordinated education effort, many people living in the high-risk coastal earthquake zone choose to ignore the warnings – a choice largely determined by what University of Victoria environmental psychologist Robert Gifford calls the “dragons of inaction.”

“We all know we should brush our teeth, we should exercise, we should eat the rights things, but a lot of us don’t do those things even when we should,” Gifford said, noting that the same goes for preparing for an earthquake or other natural disaster.

Many people often have other priorities or conflicting goals, which stand in the way of planning for disaster. Sometimes people who are closest to a risk actually perceive it as being a smaller risk, Gifford said, perhaps because they don’t want to face the danger or because it’s easier to suppress it.

“They may think that it just won’t do any good. ‘A desk or a building isn’t going to save me so why try?’” he said.

Social amplification – the influence of those who we surround ourselves with – also has a strong effect, and could be keeping the majority of people who still haven’t prepared from getting on with it, Gifford added.

Dave Cockle, deputy fire chief for Oak Bay and chair of the B.C. Earthquake Alliance, which oversees the Great British Columbia Shake Out, wants to break through the psychological roadblocks and get everyone living in earthquake country equipped with plan.

“Be aware and have a preparedness kit, that way you’re not a victim,” Cockle said. “The key messaging in this whole thing is that you will get caught in an earthquake one day and you need to drop, cover yourself and hold on until the shaking stops and then make your way to your safe area, wherever your meeting place is.”

Meanwhile Gifford, despite fully understanding the psychology behind inaction, admits he remains ill-prepared for the big one.

“We have a case of canned beans downstairs. Do I have anything else? No. I’m going to be depending on my case of canned beans. That’s about it. Twelve cans of beans that have probably gone bad. I’m not completely virtuous.”

The psychologist said he does, however, have a designated meeting place with his partner.

Gifford and the remaining 86 per cent of the province who have yet to fully prepare can turn it all around starting with the Shake Out drill, set for 10:18 a.m. on Oct. 18. To register, visit shakeoutbc.ca. CFAX 1070 will broadcast the event.

nnorth@saanichnews.com

 

 

Just Posted

Co-creatorsAdrianna Hatton and Malcolm McKenzie stand next to the little free library revealed Sunday at 9710 First St. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Literary crowd helps opens little free library in Sidney

Located at 9710 First St., the book sharing box features original art and reclaimed wood

Deep Cove Elementary School principal Shelley Hardcastle (right) and vice-principal Mary Kaercher help to restock Reay Creek with fish – in this case, coho fry – after a recent bleach spill killed hundreds of fish. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
North Saanich’s Deep Cove Elementary School helps to restock Sidney’s Reay Creek

Restocking followed bleach spill that killed hundreds of fish in creek

A new report pegs the annual cost of hiring a third party to monitor use of pickleball courts in North Saanich at $12,000. (Black Press Media file photo).
North Saanich could end up hiring third party to monitor pickleball courts

Other options up for consideration include use of cameras and timed locks

The barred owl is the most likely to be spotted in the south Island. (Ann Nightingale photo)
Barred owls dominate Greater Victoria owl-scape

Western screech owl population decimated, partly due to barred owls

Between June 1 and 7, 168 net unconditional sales were made for properties in the VREB region. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria home sales slightly behind last June’s pace

Benchmark value of single-family home in Greater Victoria tops $1 million

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Most Read