Quake simulator at Sidney emergency fair

On Sunday, May 15, the Peninsula Emergency Measures Organization (PEMO) Expo welcomes the first Island stop of the Quake Cottage.

Red Cross workers participate in a disaster management exercise in Central Saanich recently. Volunteers practiced their various roles in the event of disaster.

SIDNEY — On Sunday, May 15, the Peninsula Emergency Measures Organization (PEMO) Expo welcomes the first Island stop of the Quake Cottage.

It’s an earthquake simulator that lets people inside a structure that’s being subjected to the violent force of an 8 magnitude earthquake.

Sidney Fire Department Deputy Chief Mike Harman says it’s the first time for the Quake Cottage on the Island. It’s being brought up from the United States, by the Insurance Bureau of Canada and Health Emergency Management B.C. (HEMBC). He said it will give people an idea of what to expect in the event of a large quake.

North Saanich Fire Department Deputy Chief John Trelford said a lot of news reports on large scale quakes show the devastating loss of properties and lives. He said people in B.C. should look to the experience of Christchurch, New Zealand, which experienced a 6.3 magnitude quake in February 2011.

While many masonry buildings suffered damage and caused casualties, most homes remained intact. Trelford said residents of the Peninsula can expect their homes to remain standing in the event of a large earthquake — however, it’s the aftermath they need to prepare for.

“It used to be that people were asked to be prepared for 72 hours on their own,” he said, “but after other experiences around the world, that has gone to at least a week. There will be fewer people with emergency services coming right away.”

Are you prepared to wait out a subsequent disaster event?

That’s the question members of PEMO are asking as they prepare for their second annual Expo this Sunday. Harman and Trelford are once again organizing the event and say its timing could not be better when it comes to educating people about being prepared in the event of an earthquake.

“You need to be self-sufficient,” Trelford said, “for a minimum of three days but the message we’re trying to get across is people need to be ready for at least a week.”

To help people get prepared, the Peninsula’s various fire departments, search and rescue organizations, coast guard and communications services, will be at the Mary Winspear Centre on Sunday, May 15 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Quake Cottage will be on site during that time, as will Total Prepare, an Island company that is offering people emergency preparedness kits.