2015-10-05 15:51 PDT
The windstorm that hit Metro Vancouver at the end of August is a great reminder of the importance of being prepared for severe weather events and other emergencies.
In any emergency, first responders are often handling increased workload related to the emergency in addition to performing their regular duties. This is true for police, fire fighters, paramedics and any other front line responder service.
On Windstorm Weekend the Coquitlam RCMP team handled more than 65% more calls than the previous weekend—including calls asking about when the power would come back on, how to contact BC Hydro, what to do with thawing food, and how to file an insurance claim for damaged property—and we dealt with 50% more police files than the last weekend of August 2014. That’s a lot of extra work with no additional resources.
So this month’s Five on the Fifth is all about what to do in an emergency. In fact, we recommend printing this page and keeping it with your emergency preparedness kit.
- Know when to call police. In any situation where there is imminent danger to people or property, call 9-1-1. This includes incidents related to an ongoing emergency as well as incidents that aren’t.
When you’re calling 9-1-1 during an emergency, you have to assume that you are not the only person in need of immediate assistance and you may not be the only person calling about a particular situation. Translation: you may have to wait longer than usual to get through but it’s just as important that you stay on the line. Once a call is placed to 9-1-1 we have to ensure that the call is answered or the caller is fact safe. That can mean sending a police officer to physically check the well-being of the caller.
Find out more information on when you should call 911 from our previous Cop Talk column.
There are other times when its appropriate to call the police but its not an emergency. For example, if lives and/or property are not in imminent danger. If you live in Coquitlam RCMP’s jurisdiction, that’s when you should call our non-emergency line 604-945-1550. You can find other jurisdiction’s non-emergency numbers External link, opens in a new windowhere.
- Know when not to call the police. Every service provider you use in your daily life has plan to triage and respond to operational issues and customer needs during an emergency related to their service. Many of them have plans that include social media platforms as well as call centres and web postings.
Before an emergency happens, you should collect the contact information for all of your service providers and keep it in hard copy in an easily accessible location.
At a minimum you should know the emergency contact info for gas, electricity, phone & internet, property management company, all insurance providers and your local municipality.
If you are unable to reach them right away during an emergency, be patient and try again.
BC Hydro outage and service update:
Phone: 1-888-POWERON (1-888-769-3766), or *49376 (*HYDRO) from any cell phone.
Fortis BC natural gas service inquiries:
- Be prepared to provide for yourself and your family’s basic needs for at least 72 hours. During the windstorm, people were without power for over 72 hours. Were candles and flashlights at hand? What about water and canned food? Here’s a link to the External link, opens in a new windowPrepared BC website that has lots of tools you can use right away to start planning today.
- Get to know your neighbours. Part of being prepared is knowing your neighbours. If you a haven’t already, now is the time to meet your neighbours and join Block Watch. Being without power is a little less scary when you know your neighbours and feel like they’re looking out for you.
- What to do when traffic lights are out. As much as we’d like to be able to direct traffic at every intersection when the power is out, it’s just not possible. The rules of the road are straightforward though. When traffic lights are out, treat the intersection like a four-way stop. The vehicle that arrives first, has the right of way, to be followed by the vehicle to the right. If you’re not sure who arrived first, make eye contact with the other driver and let them go first. Still confused? Here’s a External link, opens in a new windowvisual from ICBC to help explain.
Five on the fifth is an occasional series of five lesser known facts about well-known crime and safety issues. Five on the Fifth is compiled and released by the Coquitlam RCMP Communications and Public Affairs Team when the 5th of the month falls on a weekday. Follow #FiveOnTheFifth on Twitter to get the latest updates.
Cpl. Jamie Chung
Media Relations Officer
2986 Guildford Way, Coquitlam, BC V3B 7Y5
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