Preparing for an emergency.
December 16 2019 by Simon Cox
Preparing for an emergency. We’ve had excellent weather for ducks recently with rain, a bit more rain, followed by a slight reprieve with a truck load of rain.
Twenty years ago, a similar thing happened – but the rain kept pouring until the rivers broke their banks, the lake flooded and locals could kayak down the Mall. Though it was devastating back then, I’d hate to think what it might be like if a similar thing happened now. In 1999, the Queenstown Lakes population (including Wanaka) was around 17,000, now this figure is around 39,000. This doesn’t include the three million annual visitors, many of whom would probably find being in an unfamiliar town (for some, with an unfamiliar language) during an emergency scary and confusing.
For residents, it’s best to be prepared. Climate change is happening and scientists have predicted more significant weather events from dramatic storms to dramatic droughts. Thinking about the bushfires in Australia to the monster hailstorm of Timaru, it’s safest to say we should expect the unexpected.
Add to all of this the fact that we’re sitting near the Alpine Fault – a 600km fault line which runs up the spine of the South Island. It’s ruptured four times in the past 900 years and is overdue for another – it’s not a question of if, but when. Tsunamis, landslides and the destruction of major roads are all realistic scenarios.
All of this is hard to imagine when the sun is shining and the lake is just a wee bit higher than normal. Thinking about what could happen isn’t about scaremongering or doom-and-gloom scenarios. It’s about taking a few minutes to ensure that if you’re in town when something happens, you’re prepared.
So, if you’re here for a few months, or have been around a few decades, take some time this week to make sure your emergency kit; a) exists, b) has everything you’ll need, c) isn’t full of out of date or mouldy food (yucky food is the last thing you’ll want to nibble on during an emergency).
The government recommends having supplies for at least three days – this should include food and water for all the family including pets, as well as the means to cook the food (a primus or gas camping stove). A radio and a torch with spare batteries are essential as are sleeping bags, a first aid kit (with your essential medications), and wind and waterproof clothing. You’ll also need some large bin bags to serve as an emergency toilet – don’t expect your loo to flush after an earthquake nor should you rely on your mobile phone to work, as per the Spark outage a couple of weeks ago.
There’s a handy Home Emergency Checklist available at govt.nz, take a few minutes to make sure you have everything you need.
by Simon Cox