While this is not currently an issue on Vancouver Island, as the current fires in the Interior of BC demonstrate, situations can change on a dime. Last week, there were a handful of containable fires; today, there are over 220, many of them burning out of control. Evacuation orders are the order of the day.
To that end, it is important to prepare ahead in case of an evacuation alert or order. This article is offered as resource, for your information, should something similar every occur at or near southern Vancouver Island.
In such stressful circumstances, the most important thing to remember is to stay calm, listen to local public officials, and if possible, access online social media channels like Twitter or your local government website for information updates. Sooke PocketNews‘ Weather Page does contain continual feeds live information from Emergency BC in the right-side column (top).
In the event an evacuation alert is issued for your area:
- Prepare to leave your home on short notice.
- Stay tuned to your local authority’s public information channels, as well as Emergency Info BC for updates.
- Have your emergency kit and important documents ready to go, which should include things like insurance and personal papers such as birth certificates. You should also pack:
- Several days’ clothing.
- For your children, comfort items, like a favourite toy or colouring books to help keep them busy.
- For your pets, leashes, carriers and pet food.
- Consider collecting precious photos and mementoes that can’t be replaced.
As well, please check in on any family, friends or neighbours who may need a helping hand due to mobility or other issues.
In the event of an evacuation order, you must leave the area immediately. Local authorities will not ask you to leave without good reason, and failing to leave when asked to by officials puts yourself and others at risk. When an evacuation order is issued:
- Wear a long-sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes to help protect you from unforeseen hazards.
- Collect family members or go to the place designated in your family plan as a meeting place.
- Plan to take your pets with you; do not leave them behind. Because pets are not permitted in public shelters, follow your plan to go to a relative or friend’s home, or find a “pet-friendly” hotel.
- Grab your emergency kit and follow the directions to the identified reception centre.
- Follow the routes specified by emergency officials. Avoid shortcuts – they could take you to a blocked or dangerous area.
- Take critical items already in your kit (medicine, purse, wallet and keys).
- Take your pets in kennels or on a leash.
- Close all doors and windows. Close and latch gates, but do not lock them.
- Take a cell phone if you have one.
- If there is time and it is safe to do so, shut off water at the main line into your home, and switch off electricity at the breaker panel. Leave natural gas service ‘on’.
- Stay well away from any downed power lines.
- If you go to an evacuation centre, sign up with the registration desk so you can be contacted or reunited with your family and loved ones.
- Contact your out-of-area emergency contact (identified in your personal emergency plan) to let them know what has happened, that you are okay, and how to contact you. Alert them to any separated family members.
Your local authority officials will advise you when it’s safe to return home.
Keep up-to-date on the provincial wildfire situation at BC Wildfire.ca
For information on evacuation orders and alerts, visit Emergency Info BC