Be prepared: know the risks, make a plan, get a kit and subscribe

Thursday, March 7, 2019 - 8:22am

Any Central Okanagan resident who has faced a natural emergency would tell you that it’s easier to cope with the stress of being out of their homes when:

  1. They knew the risks in advance and prepared and practiced a family/business emergency plan.
  2. They prepared family/vehicle ‘Grab and Go’ kits and kept them updated.
  3. They subscribed to receive information updates on the status of an emergency at cordemergency.ca, the Central Okanagan Emergency Program website.

Emergency response requires swift action and there may not be an opportunity to provide much advance notice for the evacuation of an area if the risk to public safety is imminent. First responders may only have minutes to notify residents to gather family and belongings and leave the area as directed. That possibility makes having a prepared Emergency Plan and ‘Grab and Go’ kit even more important.

The best time to prepare for an emergency is when there isn’t one! Residents of the Central Okanagan can find a number of useful links, preparedness information, checklists and videos at cordemergency.ca/beprepared.

Being familiar with important emergency terms in advance can also help remove stress and fear in case of an emergency incident:

Evacuation Alert (be ready and on standby): Residents need to get ready to leave their home at a moment’s notice, but for now can remain at their home until more information is provided by emergency officials. Gather documents, medication and essential items, make a plan for pets and farm animals and consider arrangements for family members who are older, challenged or require special equipment as they may need more time to leave. The alert may be upgraded to an order on short notice.

Evacuation Order (get out):  It is necessary for homes or an area to be evacuated due to imminent risk to safety. Residents must leave their home and property immediately. You will not be able to return home until emergency personnel has deemed it safe to. While the evacuation order is in effect, the area will have controlled and restricted access. Residents can check-in with an Emergency Support Services (ESS) site for immediate living needs (shelter, meals, information).

Evacuation Rescind (safe to come home): It is safe for evacuees to return to their home and area, however, residents may remain on evacuation alert and may need to leave again on short notice if the emergency incident evolves.

Over the coming weeks, the Central Okanagan emergency program social media channels will be providing helpful tips and resources for residents to get prepared. Tune-in for an informative Facebook Live session tomorrow, Friday, March 8 at 1:30 p.m. to learn more about getting prepared for an emergency. For ongoing emergency information, follow us at Facebook.com/CORDEmergency and on Twitter at @CO_Emerg.

Visit cordemergency.ca for the most up to date information and resources on how to be prepared to keep your family and property safe. On the website you can sign-up for e-updates to have the latest news delivered to your inbox including if there is an emergency activation.

The Regional District of Central Okanagan Emergency Program is coordinated by the Kelowna Fire Department on behalf of the Regional District, the cities of Kelowna and West Kelowna, districts of Lake Country and Peachland, and Westbank First Nation.