Be prepared, not panicked in an emergency

Tuesday, March 9, 2021 - 10:44am

When is the best time to prepare for an emergency?  When there isn’t one.  While our communities have been navigating the ups and downs of the pandemic over the past year, an emergency – whether flood, fire or other, stops for no one, including COVID-19.

This is the time of year for all Central Okanagan residents to check and update their family emergency plan.  If you don’t have a plan yet, the Central Okanagan Regional District Emergency program webpage offers plenty of resources to help guide you through the process. 

“Being prepared to look after your family for at least 72 hours in the event of an emergency is something we all need to do each year,” says Sandra Follack, Central Okanagan Emergency Program Coordinator.

She adds, “Moving from winter to spring provides a great opportunity for residents to check through their ‘grab and go’ kit.  Take stock of materials you need to replenish and ensure that you replace any outdated food, prescriptions, water or other items you may need should an emergency evacuation force you from your home.”

Follack says, “For those that may not have a plan or kit yet, the upcoming Spring Break is an opportune time to create a household family plan, ‘grab and go’ kit and make it a safe and educational family activity.”

You’ll find a number of useful links, preparedness information, checklists and videos at cordemergency.ca/beprepared.

Having a plan and kit brings some peace of mind.  “There may not be a lot of advance notice during the early stages of an emergency response,” says Follack. “If the threat is imminent, there may only have a few minutes to get your family and belongings together before being directed to leave your home.”

Every Central Okanagan resident is encouraged to visit cordemergency.ca and subscribe to receive notices directly from the Regional Emergency Operation Centre if its activated in an emergency.

Residents should also be also aware that in this COVID-19 pandemic environment, health and safety protocols will be in place for any Emergency Reception Centre in order to protect Emergency Support Services volunteers and evacuees visiting in person.   Also a new online program provided in conjunction with Emergency Management BC was introduced in 2020.  It provides an easy online self-registration option for anyone on Evacuation Alert or forced from their home due to an Evacuation Order.  During an emergency, this will help ESS volunteers administer and coordinate resources for anyone eligible for assistance and help under the Emergency Support Services program.

With springtime showers and the annual freshet ahead, Central Okanagan emergency program social media channels will provide tips and resources to help residents prepare. For ongoing emergency information, follow us at Facebook.com/CORDEmergency and on Twitter at @CO_Emerg.

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