Make a personal wildfire evacuation plan and do it now, says Len MacCharles, Nelson’s fire chief and director of emergency management.
“Plan where you and your family and pets will go and how you will get there.”
If you plan to go to friends or family in another community in the event of an evacuation, discuss this with them now.Plan to be self-sufficient, not dependent on services, because there will be many people – people in hospital and in seniors’ homes, for example – who will need help from emergency services.
“You want to be able to look after yourself for as long as possible, because emergency services can only do so much,” says MacCharles, adding that you should not plan to go to an emergency evacuation centre – if there is one – unless you absolutely need to. Save that service for people who have no choice.
Make a grab-and-go bag
Put together a grab-and-go bag, containing things that will allow you to be self-sufficient for at least three days. The kit should contain:
• Food (ready to eat) and water for three days per person
• Phone charger and battery bank
• Small battery-powered or hand-crank radio
• Battery-powered or hand-crank flashlight
• Extra batteries
• Small first-aid kit and personal medications
• Personal toiletries and items such as an extra pair of glasses or contact lenses
• Copies of important documents such as insurance papers
• Cash in small bills
• Local map with your family meeting place identified
• Seasonal clothing and an emergency blanket
• Pen and notepad
• Toilet tissue
• Pet food and supplies
Why food for three full days, when you know you can reach your friend’s house in another community in a few hours?
“There could be highway closures,” says MacCharles. “You may not be able to get to where you need to get to. You may find that you’re not in a position to actually travel that far, and that you have to stay someplace more locally.”
The website PreparedBC has further information on preparing for an evacuation, and MacCharles points out that on that site there are two different kits described: an emergency kit and a grab-and-go bag.
An emergency kit is for an extended stay in your own house, in case of natural disaster. A grab-and-go kit is for quick evacuation, as described above.
Sign up for emergency notifications
Usually before an evacuation order, emergency management authorities will issue an evacuation alert, telling residents of specific neighbourhoods that they should prepare to leave immediately.
But if there is an alert, how will you find out about it?
The best way is to sign up for a notification that will arrive on your phone or in your email. To do this, click the emergency notification sign-up at the top of the City of Nelson’s webpage at www.nelson.ca.