This past weekend I helped introduce 200 youth to Emergency and Disaster Preparedness through my volunteer work with Scouts Canada, and Whitby Area Scouts. It was an eye opening experience for most of them, if not a bit on the heady side. But, they all left the weekend camp with a good idea of what they needed to do and what they needed to have when disaster strikes. And, they all came away with their own Home Emergency Plan.
Home Emergency Planning is the direction we need to head in the world today. If you want your family to survive a disaster without injury and only minor inconvenience, then you need to plan. They aren't very expensive, they are easy to do and are easy to follow, test and adjust where needed. They can come as templates for the family to complete, or they are available customized in advance to your address and community. Either way, they have good time investment value, and there may be an argument that they can save on insurance premiums. (the latter I will not guarantee at this time, but I have seen some indicators that this may be so)
My fellow Whitby Cub Scouters and I could not have done this introduction to Emergency Management in the home alone, and we had some fantastic people come and help us from organizations in the Durham Region.
Kathleen Smyth from the Durham Emergency Management Office (DEMO) introduced the youth to putting together a 72 hour preparedness kit. Kathleen dealt with an average of 50 youth in each of 4 sessions, and managed to engage them in a topic often lost on adults.
Shawna Coulter from Whitby Fire services brought us her team to teach the youth fire safety, and had some incredible display teaching props and games.
OVERT, the Ontario Volunteer Emergency Response Team joined us and taught the youth how to keep themselves safe in field and community, and how to be found if they became lost due to disaster, and introduced the youth to Backus the search and rescue dog. Glenn Turpin, Alex Gun and the team taught the Hug a Tree program as well, and ran one of our challenges on the Sunday session.
Others of note who helped us bring the material to the youth, Brian Wick of Custom Printing/Brooklin Bulletin Signs, Pressprint.com, and Nelson Education.
Whitby Scouting, Pack Section wishes to thank each and every person who helped make this camp weekend so special for the youth. They met the challenges of 200 excited youth, and a service team of new members who may not have been the most organized bunch running their first camp experience as a team. These program sponsors had their hands full, came through like champions and we owe them a large debt of gratitude.
I hope the families of the youth in attendance will complete the plans they now have, and test them and review them and make the necessary changes to their plans to make them work and continue to work for their families. They are now ahead of the majority of Canadian families, and I for one would like to see them stay that way.
For everyone else out there: get going on your plans! I'll be happy to help.
Greg Long, TEN33