People all over the Island are more prepared for disasters and hazards because of their shopping habits during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A lot of people now, I feel, are actually more prepared for these types of emergencies because they can’t go to the store as often so they have more supplies at home,” said Tanya Patterson, Victoria’s emergency program coordinator.

Patterson is talking about hazards such as earthquakes, tsunamis and fires.

“One of the positive things that can come out of this is knowing we are prepared, we are connected and we have more items at our ready,” she explained. “We’re more resilient today than we were a few weeks ago.”

There’s been an increased interest in emergency preparedness during the provincial state of emergency, as officials encourage people to stay at home to flatten the curve of COVID-19.

“People are thinking about it more, they are getting the supplies, they are setting themselves up really well. Those knowledge bases are coming forward,” said Zenia Platten, customer service manager at Total Prepare in Victoria. “I’ve had [friends who] have said ‘Oh, I need to get a kit’ finally actually doing it because they have this incentive.”

The threat of another emergency is still very real and can happen at any time, even during a pandemic.

“We’re on the west coast, so earthquakes are always top of mind for me,” said Platten. “They are no less likely if we are panicking about something else, and in fact, I would say it’s even more important to prepare for them during another state of emergency because it’s going to be that much harder to get help.”

Being prepared means knowing your risks, having a plan, getting a kit together and connecting with your community. A shelter-in-place kit, for example, would include at least seven days worth of supplies like food and water. Everyday preparedness also includes things like keeping your gas tank full and cell phone charged.

“If you’re not prepared, then when something happens, you might be in a situation where you’re not able to get batteries, get water, toilet paper — things like that when you really need it,” said Frank Macdonald, Saanich deputy fire chief.

Preparing for another disaster during a state of emergency looks like gathering things and stocking up a little at a time, he added.

“You don’t want to go out and clean out aisles in a shopping store,” Macdonald said. “Typically, you’ve got a lot of the resources at home. So it’s [first] taking a look, doing a home assessment, and when you’re going shopping, maybe just buying an extra pack of batteries or an extra can or two of food.”

For more information on emergency preparedness and how to create your own kit, click here. The 25th annual Emergency Preparedness Week runs from May 3 to May 9.

Jasmine Bala