As British Columbia deals with an increasingly active fire season, it’s a good time to make sure you are prepared for an evacuation order, rather than scrambling at the last minute.
This past weekend saw evacuation alerts and orders at three different locations in the Kootenays — East of Lake Koocanusa, Harrogate, north of Radium and Sitkum Creek near Nelson.
There are stages of evacuations:
Evacuation Order: You are at risk. Leave the area immediately. Local police or RCMP enforce evacuation orders. You are encouraged to register all family members at the reception centre so, emergency responders know that you are safe
Evacuation Alert: Be ready to leave on short notice. If you leave before or during this alert, it’s called a voluntary evacuation
Evacuation Rescinded: All is currently safe and you can return home. Stay tuned for other possible evacuation alerts or orders
Having special medications, important documents, pet food, basic toiletries and clean clothes already packed in an emergency kit can make a very stressful situation much less difficult.
Emergency Info BC offers these suggestions for a family grab bag.
Don’t count on being home when there’s an emergency. Create grab-and-go bags for your work and vehicles that contain:
Food (ready to eat) and water
Flashlight and batteries
Cell phone charger
Pen and notepad
Small First-Aid kit
Extra pair of glasses or contacts
Cash in small bills
Local map with your family meeting place identified
Eleven Steps to Developing a Household Preparedness Plan
Identify the risks for your region
Make an emergency phone list with at least two out-of-area contacts
Pick a meeting spot in case you’re separated from family members
Assign someone to collect your children from school or daycare if you can’t
Identify what official sources you’ll get information from
Learn how to turn off utilities
Store enough emergency water for your family for a minimum of three days
Store enough emergency food to support your family for a minimum of three days
Identify any special needs, such as medications, baby formula or pet food, and make sure a proper supply is on hand
Create grab-and-go bags for every member of your household
Don’t forget the pets
The BCSPCA is also asking people to have an emergency bag prepared for pets.
“When you’re ordered to evacuate, you need to do it as soon as possible, and people don’t necessarily think about their pet in an emergency situation until it’s too late,” says BC SPCA general manager of community relations Lorie Chortyk. “You don’t have time to gather up everything you need if you have to get out of your home right away.”
Evacuations are usually a busy time for staff and volunteers at the province’s BC SPCA branches, as they provide extra shelter, pet food and pet-related equipment such as crates and leashes for pet guardians and animals.
“When you’re in a hurry, it can be easy to forgot feeding bowls, food, leashes, everything,” Chortyk says. “That’s why it’s important to plan ahead and be prepared for any emergency. People love their pets but it often doesn’t sink in that an emergency can happen at any time.”
Having an emergency pet kit handy is key, as well as ensuring your pet is already wearing a collar with up-to-date contact information, Chortyk notes. Keeping your pets inside the house so you don’t need to search for them is also a good idea, as is having emergency pet boarding plans in place.
Items to include in an emergency kit for your pet(s) include:
· A seven-day supply of food and water
· Identification tag and collar
· Sturdy crate and/or carrier
· Pet first aid kit
· Blanket/plastic bags
· Leash, harness
· Food and water bowls (collapsible are great)
· Litter box and litter for cats
· Manual can opener
· Copy of your pet’s current vaccination history
· Any special medications and instructions
Much more information is available online at http://www.emergencyinfobc.gov.bc.ca/