EDITORIAL: Nepal quake a timely reminder

Here in B.C., there are lessons we can learn from Nepal, after the country suffered a major earthquake.

The horrific earthquake in Nepal has prompted a wave of generosity from Canadians – including right here on the Semiahmoo Peninsula –  which is very heartening.

For the next month, the federal government has promised to double contributions made to Canadian-registered relief agencies that are working to help people who have been displaced by the earthquake, which took place on April 25.

It is a good incentive to give generously, and earthquake survivor, 18-year-old Kiah Ellis-Durity, along with White Rock business DesLauriers Chiropractic, are among those planning to take full advantage.

Here in B.C., there are lessons we can learn from Nepal. While there are vast differences in building standards between Nepal and B.C., it is important to point out how dangerous multi-storey buildings can be when a quake strikes.

While newer buildings in B.C. are built to withstand strong earthquakes, older ones are not.

Knowing exactly what to do is important, but perhaps equally as important is knowing what would likely happen to the building you live or work in, should a powerful earthquake strike.

We will have a strong earthquake here at some time. The fault lines, as in Nepal, are nearby. There are almost constant earthquakes up and down the west coast of North America, and while most are very small and cause little damage, there will be a big one eventually.

Roads, airports, rail lines and other transportation arteries can suffer severe damage in earthquakes. That can mean help will be a long time in arriving. It is important to have a supply of water, medical supplies, food to eat and plans for shelter, because it is possible that you will be cut off from assistance for days.

Also important is a means of communication. While the cellphone network in Nepal seems to be holding up, there have at times been difficulties in communication. Having a landline telephone as a backup isn’t a bad idea here, where landlines are easily available.

Access to information is also important. If the power is out, how will your computer or cellphone be charged? Do you have access to a battery-powered radio and flashlights?

Most of the issues that keep people safe in earthquakes aren’t big ones – but they do require thinking ahead. The Nepal earthquake is a good reminder of that.

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