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Emergency Preparedness, January 27

On December 29, many of us were in bed at 11:39 p.m. Some of us heard and then felt the 4.7 magnitude earthquake that shuddered faintly through BC’s South Coast. For some of us, it didn’t register at all. No damage was reported, but many inhabitants of the Cascadia Subduction Zone were shaken into thinking, What if?

Always eager to seize a learning opportunity, we decided to face preparing for The Big One the way we do all things: with a little help from our friends. Thankfully, we knew just who to turn to.

Ben Newman is a self-schooled earthquake survivalist who's learned a thing or two about facing the 9.0 quake that could happen within our lifetime. He represents Project4 Living Systems Ltd. and Out of the Box (a Local Food & Idea Hub at Brewery Creek), two projects committed to making sure we stay healthy, safe and secure in the event of a major disaster. Specifically, an earthquake of devastating magnitude that will provoke a chain reaction of natural disasters and human emergencies. Knowledge is power, especially in a crisis, and Ben wanted to share his with The Food Connection.

A dark and rainy January evening was the perfect setting for our tête-à-tête at a special location. A group of brave souls gathered at the Project4 co-working space, not far from our usual stomping grounds at Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House. In the spirit of adventure, we turned off the lights, spread blankets on the floor, and huddled around an indoor 'campfire' -- a softly glowing LED lantern that would come in handy during a real emergency.

For this unique occasion, we enjoyed our usual potluck of delicious Food Connection fare by candlelight. Ben impressed upon us that we probably wouldn't be eating many fresh foods in a disaster scenario. His practical contribution to the potluck was a jar of pickles, to help us think about stocking up on non-perishable edibles.

Once we were fed and content, the storytelling began. We learned about what will happen in our region during a massive 9.0 earthquake, and more importantly, in the aftermath. Ben spared no details in describing the events from geological and experiential perspectives. Accounts of energy being released from the earth, of mass destruction and displacement, had all the elements of every good campfire tale: suspense, shock, intrigue, and hope. What kept us feeling safe was togetherness, and the promise of learning to be prepared.

Check out Ben's Recipe for Earthquake Survival for the critical details.

In groups of three, we spent a few minutes brainstorming what we might need to survive in the aftermath of an earthquake. Some of us had lots of ideas, and some of us had no idea, but all of us would be more prepared by the end of the night. In a disaster, we would need protection from glass and debris. We would need shelter, first-aid supplies, clothing, food, and safe drinking water. We would need strategies for self-defense, possibly simple weapons. If we were really thinking ahead, we might carry things for trading, like alcohol and tobacco, or even protein bars.

We learned about the priorities we needed to remember, and Ben taught us about "bugging in" and "bugging out." The first is what we would do if we found ourselves in a safe location, with access to the supplies and food we'd prepared and stored in one place. (This is where a jar of pickles and other preserved food would come in handy). Bugging out involves evacuating an unsafe location. In that case, we would need to grab our bug-out bags (ready to carry, and fully stocked with portable food and supplies) and make our way to safer surroundings.

Our wide eyes began to light up as Ben dug into his own bug-out bag to share his survival strategies with us. Some of his gear got us thinking about ingenious uses for everday items: salt (for hydration and first aid), tampons and condoms (both are sterile items for treating wounds), and a fabric belt (useful for attaching things to a backpack, or as a tourniquet). We learned about the importance of a wool sweater, the danger of wet cotton (it draws away body heat), and the power of a fresh pair of socks.

We talked about so many things we might not otherwise think of, like treating injuries, establishing a meet-up plan with loved ones, and communicating or telling time in the absence of cell phone service. We could have talked late into the night, but eventually the promise of warm beds won out over imagining our way into best-case-scenarios.

After the event, Ben took to Facebook to share the results of his first-ever earthquake preparedness workshop:

"What a great turnout and response to our event with The Food Connection last night on ‪#‎disaster‬. There were a few wide-eyed, gaping mouths during our 'round-the-campfire' discussion about what challenges a disaster of this magnitude would cause! Thankfully I fully believe this group will be part of the tiny percentage that will be both aware and ‪#‎prepared‬ if something like this were to occur.

This also showcased the fact that the Project4 Living Systems Ltd. co-working space that now houses the Food Ekosystem is fully capable of hosting all manner of ‪#‎workshops‬, dinner events, meetings, etc.!

Wow, 2016 is going to be a cool year!"

We can't wait to compare notes on our own disaster-preparedness plans in the months ahead.

We hope you'll join the conversation around the dinner table at our upcoming events.

How Do These Work?

Our workshops are fun, collaborative and hands-on. You don't need to be an expert to teach. Have an idea for a workshop? Email us! 

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