Emergency preparedness week: Is your family ready?

Floods, landslides and wildfires—just a few of the emergencies the Central Okanagan has experienced over the years.


We know emergencies will happen. What we don’t know is when. And that’s why residents should be prepared to deal with a variety of potential emergency situations. 


 “You should be prepared to look after your family’s needs for at least 72 hours,” said Sandra Follack, the Central Okanagan’s emergency program coordinator. “The best time to prepare is when there isn’t an emergency. Emergency Preparedness Week, May 7 through 13, is a great time to create or review your family emergency plan and ensure that your grab and go kits are refreshed, restocked and replenished. You never know when they’ll be needed.”


She suggests setting aside some time during the week to check your kits and replace any outdated food, prescriptions, water and other items. The week is a great opportunity to practice your plan, so that everyone understands what to do when there is an emergency.


If you have pets, include them in your plan and create a grab and go kit for them as well with food, water, toys and any medications they require for an extended period away from your home.  And remember that anyone with special needs or medical equipment may require special consideration in your emergency planning.


Follack adds “If your family is prepared in advance, you can focus on what you need to do during an evacuation of your area. First responders may only have minutes to notify residents to gather family and belongings and leave the area as directed. That’s why it’s so important to have an emergency plan and ‘grab and go’ kits at the ready.”

Residents are also encouraged to know the risks of potential emergencies in their area like flooding, wildfires and land movement, and what they can do in advance to protect their properties.


Those living near previously flooded creeks, streams and lakes, that might again see high water levels, should have the tools and equipment they need to protect their properties. Homeowners can help protect their home from wildfire hazards by using proven FireSmart program principles including:


  • Move firewood 10-30 metres away from the home
  • Clean roof and gutters of flammable leaves and needles
  • Remove branches/ladder fuels up to 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/be-prepared.


On Wednesday, May 10, ALERTREADY, Canada’s emergency alert system, will conduct an emergency notification test.  During this test, people will hear or see the message on radio, TV 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 on Twitter at @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.




Sandra Follack

Regional emergency program coordinator