How you can prepare yourself, your family and your home for wildfire evacuation
Families should create a plan and pack emergency kits
In a wildfire situation as fluid as the one in British Columbia, officials say it's crucial that residents be prepared to leave their homes at a moment's notice.
In the past few days alone, more than 14,000 people have been told to head out. Thousands more are on alert.
Here are steps you can take to prepare yourself for an evacuation.
Preparing your household
Family members should agree on which evacuation resource centre they're travelling to. They should also set up meeting points in case they're separated, mapping out routes to all of those locations.
Residents should also establish an emergency contact who lives out of town that will be able to keep track of their whereabouts.
Prepared B.C. has a checklist for what to do to prepare your family, step-by-step, along with a full PDF guide.
Pack an emergency kit
Officials recommend packing a "grab-and-go" bag, also known as a "go" bag. These are kits that contain anything a person would need to survive for up to three days in an evacuation. It is not the same as longer-term survival kits.
Include items such as:
- Important paperwork like insurance and identification documents.
- Non-perishable food.
- Water (4 litres per person per day).
- Clothing for a few days.
- Comfort items for children.
- Cellphone chargers.
Secure your home
Water, hydro and gas service to your house may be disrupted during a fire or any other natural disaster. Before you leave your home in an evacuation, you should do the following, if it is safe:
- Close doors and windows.
- Close and latch gates, but leave them unlocked.
- Shut off the water.
- Switch electricity off.
- Leave the natural gas "on."
On Facebook, Albertans who went through the Fort McMurray wildfires last summer have also recommended taking photos and video of your home's contents before leaving for insurance purposes.
This, of course, is not to be done under an evacuation order, when you're required to leave immediately.
Remember the difference between an evacuation alert and an evacuation order:
What about pets and livestock?
Officials say you should take your pets with you. However, you'll need to plan where to take them as many evacuation shelters do not allow animals. Household pets should be leashed or in a carrier.
If you're out of danger, 'Fire Smart' your home
If you live in an area that is suspectible to wildfire but not under immediate threat, you can take time to protect your home.
Fire Smart B.C. has a homeowner's manual with tips to lower the impact of fire and assess whether or not your home is at risk. This includes inspecting your roof, chimney, gutters, siding, windows, doors and more.
It also recommends creating a 10-metre, fire-resistant "circle" around your home, removing any flammable material from the perimeter.
Wildfires can happen anytime, anywhere. Prep by clearing debris within 30’ of your home, packing a go-kit, & making a plan with your family. <a href="https://t.co/WHONFq6RkY">pic.twitter.com/WHONFq6RkY</a>—@fema
Information on evacuation orders and alerts can be foud at Emergency Info BC.
Evacuees should register in person at a reception centre in their region.
They can also can register with Red Cross by going to www.redcross.ca/gethelp, or by calling 1-800-863-6582.
With files from the Canadian Press