Take control during Emergency Preparedness Week

Tuesday, May 5, 2020 - 8:15am

Emergency Preparedness Week runs May 3-9 and provides a great reminder to take control and get prepared for whatever the spring and summer seasons might hold.

“While many things have changed for all of us as a result of the pandemic, we want to reassure the community that we are prepared should we be faced with additional emergencies,” said Sandra Follack, Central Okanagan Regional Emergency Program Coordinator. “While the Provincial recommendations are in place, physical distancing will be practiced at any in-person emergency support service location, and whenever possible, phone and online options will be encouraged.”

Around the Central Okanagan, creeks and streams are starting to flow faster and are rising with melting snow from the mid and upper elevation snowpack. And since seasons can change quickly, it’s important for everyone to create a plan and be prepared, whether we’re preparing for potential floods or wildfires.

Flooding preparedness

Those living near creeks, streams and low-lying properties that have experienced flooding and high water in the past are responsible for having an emergency plan as well as the tools and equipment to protect properties from possible damage. Find resources and learn more about creating an emergency preparedness plan at cordemergency.ca/beprepared.

Sandbags are available at fire halls or other designated locations by local governments in the Central Okanagan and residents are encouraged to check local municipal websites for more information. During the COVID-19 pandemic, those filling sandbags are asked to maintain a safe physical distance from others. Unless otherwise provided, property owners are responsible for providing their own sand to fill the bags and the proper removal and disposal of any sandbags they use.

During the spring snowmelt, all Central Okanagan residents should be cautious around area creeks as water can unexpectedly rise and flow faster. People and pets should stay safely back from creek banks, which may be slippery or subject to erosion from the spring runoff. Boaters should watch for floating debris carried into area lakes from faster flowing tributaries.

Get FireSmart

As the weather heats up, residents are encouraged to get their homes in shape to help prevent fires and minimize the potential for damage and spread.

“Central Okanagan fire departments have already had to respond to several grassfires, emphasizing the importance to be FireSmart when you are in nature and at home,” said Follack. “There have also been a number of out-of-control campfires, despite the current fire bans issued by fire departments within the region.”

FireSmartBC has begun their annual campaign and have provided the top 10 ways to FireSmart your home:

  1. Move firewood 10-30 meters from your home
  2. Clean your roof and gutters of leaves & pine needles
  3. Have a wildfire evacuation plan with your household
  4. Keep grass cut to less than 10 cm
  5. Trim and prune any trees or vegetation that overhang your roof
  6. Take inventory of what kind of trees grow on your property
  7. Make sure everyone in your family knows where the gas, electric, and water mains shut-off are
  8. Assess your roof and chimney
  9. Relocate propane tanks 10-30 meters from your home
  10. Conduct a full FireSmart assessment of your home and property

For more information and resources on how be FireSmart, visit the FireSmartBC website. And to learn about current Provincial fire bans, visit the Province of British Columbia’s fire bans and restrictions and Regional District of Central Okanagan’s outdoor burning webpages.

In the event of an emergency and activation of the Central Okanagan Emergency Operation Centre, find the latest information at cordemergency.ca, on Facebook (@CORDEmergency), Twitter (@CO_Emerg) and through email updates.