Emergency preparedness begins at home

Friday, April 29, 2022 - 8:24am

The Central Okanagan has had its share of emergencies, including floods, landslides and wildfires.

Each has its own unique set of circumstances and challenges, but experts agree there is one common element that can help keep residents and their families safe during any emergency: being prepared.

“Being prepared to look after your family for at least 72 hours in the event of an emergency is something we need to do each year,” said Sandra Follack, Central Okanagan’s emergency program coordinator. “And the best time to dust off your family emergency plan and ensure grab and go kits are refreshed, is when there is no emergency.”

With Emergency Preparedness Week happening May 1–7, Follack says it’s the perfect time to inspect kits and replace any outdated food, prescriptions, water and other items.  She also adds that it provides an opportunity to involve all family members in practising the plan, so that everyone understands what to do when there is an emergency.

“If the risk to public safety is imminent, there may not be much advance notice for an evacuation of an area,” she said. “First responders may only have minutes to notify residents to gather family and belongings and leave the area as directed. That’s why having a prepared emergency plan and ‘grab and go’ kit is so important.” 

Follack also recommends residents familiarize themselves with their area’s potential emergencies like flooding, wildfires and land movement, and what they can do in advance to protect their properties. 

She notes waterfront residents, or those living near previously flooded creeks and streams and other areas that might be susceptible to flooding, should have the tools and equipment they need to protect their properties.

Homeowners can help protect their home from fire hazard by using proven FireSmart program principles including:

  • Move firewood 10 to 30 metres away from the home
  • Clean roof and gutters of flammable leaves and needles
  • Remove tree branches that are within three metres from the ground 
  • Trim or prune trees or vegetation that overhang structures

Useful links, preparedness information, checklists and videos are available at cordemergency.ca/beprepared

On Thursday, May 4 a test of the national Alert Ready system will take place. During this test, people will hear or see an alert message on radio, television and compatible wireless devices.  Learn more about this potentially life-saving service at alertready.ca.

Central Okanagan residents are encouraged to visit the Regional District of the Central Okanagan (RDCO) Emergency Program website at cordemergency.ca to subscribe to receive email notifications in the event of an emergency in their area.

The program also provides information during emergencies through its social media channels at Facebook.com/CORDEmergency and twitter.com/CO_Emerg.

The 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.

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Contacts:

Sandra Follack
Regional Emergency Program Coordinator
250-469-8629

Bruce Smith
RDCO communications 
250-469-6339