EDITORIAL: Social media not a saviour

NANAIMO: Last week’s earthquake proved just how unprepared we are for a natural disaster.

Last week’s earthquake proved just how unprepared we are for a natural disaster. More specifically, an earthquake and resulting tsunami.

The province failed to broadcast any type of warning until 45 minutes after the 7.7 magnitude quake – Canada’s largest on record – shook the Haida Gwaii region.

Should a tsunami have been created, it would have hit areas like Tofino 30 minutes before a warning was issued.

Footage that is emerging from the quake is also disturbing in that, two weeks after the Great B.C. ShakeOut implored people to drop, cover and hold on, people chose to run or document the quake without taking cover.

This event proved that social media is not a reliable method to alert people of danger. Neither are media alerts or municipal emergency telephone call alerts.

On Saturday night, when this quake struck, people would likely have been out at restaurants, parties and other places away from media broadcasts and, yes, even Facebook and Twitter.

Despite being ubiquitous, modern technology is not a sure-fire way of spreading urgent messages.

On a smaller scale, Nanaimo’s city council released an emergency action plan this week for Harewood residents vulnerable to dam failure at two of Colliery Dam Park’s dams. How will citizens be alerted in the event of a breach? Social media, mass text messages, news broadcasts and emergency alert calls will be far too slow and unreliable.

The only solution is strategically placed sirens, an effective method to alert people that danger is imminent and action is needed.

New technology might be useful for day-to-day activities, but when you-know-what hits the fan, emergency sirens and a plan have no equal.

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