Wildfire season is officially upon us here in beautiful BC, with over 150 fires starting in the past week. The Christie Mountain wildfire that began on August 18th is especially close to home and we are so fortunate that most people have been able to return to their residence safely with little to no damage.
This situation provides an opportunity to think about the importance of wildfire preparedness as we all know someone directly or indirectly affected by this natural disaster…
How can you help?
And how can you better prepare to ensure you and your family are safe?
Keep reading for some tips and resources to make sure our community stays united together through these uncertain times.
MAKE AN EMERGENCY PLAN.
Make an emergency plan that outlines how you and your family will respond to a wildfire. The BC government has fill-in-the-blank plans accessible here for you and your family to complete. It is important for everyone to review and understand it thoroughly, as well as update it on an annual basis.
Prepare “grab-and-go” bags to have in your home at all times. Important items include a first aid kit, bottled water, food such as granola bars and dried fruit, phone charger, radio, flashlight, and blanket. Prepare a smaller one for your car or trailer as well. You can also customize a bag for every member of your family, including pets.
Ensure your car always has sufficient fuel as you may have to drive far distances on an extremely short notice. It is important to be familiar with the roads in your area and even map out alternative routes in case major highways are closed or at a standstill.
PROTECT YOUR HOME.
Protect your home to the best of your ability by mitigating risks on your property. Remove all fire hazards in and around your home, including dry branches and debris. Move other items such as piles of firewood, construction materials, and storage sheds more than 10 metres from your home. Ashes from wildfires can travel far and easily spark dry wood given favourable conditions. Taking all necessary precautions will reduce the risk of bringing the fire closer while promoting peace of mind for yourself and your loved ones.
Keep all important documents in one area that is easily accessible, including both legal papers and family photos. If possible, make copies and put them in your grab-and-go bag. If you have access to a fireproof safe, store your documents there.
COMMUNICATE WITH FAMILY.
Notify your loved ones of your location ASAP! Make sure to keep your phone charged to communicate with them. Also ensure you have a meet up point in case there is no service.
How can you help?
HELP OTHERS: Offer to help someone in need by cooking them lunch or dinner, providing a place to stay, and even housing their pet. The additional stress of these daily tasks is the last thing that they need to deal with. Besides, who doesn’t love cat or dog sitting?
HELP MOTHER NATURE: Limit hazards and be conscious of your actions! Refrain from having bonfires as well as throwing cigarettes on the pavement or ground. We all have a responsibility to help in any way we can.
HELP YOUR COMMUNITY: Stay up to date with news articles and public announcements. The sooner one person knows, the sooner we all know. Stay off the highway as well – save the roads for emergency vehicles and those who actually need to travel. It is also recommended to refrain from boating on Skaha Lake at this time to ensure aerial crews can gather water.
HELP YOURSELF! Make sure you are eating healthy, exercising if possible, and getting enough sleep. Understand that fear and anxiety are natural responses, so taking care of yourself can lower stress and drastically improve overall well-being. It is also important to stay indoors if you are at high risk from the dangers of smoke inhalation.
By taking the necessary steps to mitigate damage and assist others we are helping not only ourselves, but the greater good.
One small act of kindness has a ripple effect, and this holds true now more than ever!
It is important to stay aware of the ever-changing situation at hand. For up to date information check out the below resources:
Local news source:
Map of current wildfires in the province:
Preparing for before, during & after wildfires:
How to FireSmart your home:
Mental health & wellbeing resources:
- BC’s Mental Health Support Line is open 24 hours a day at 310-6789 (no area code)
- Counselling is also available through the First Nations Health Authority. Visit http://www.fnha.ca or call the KUU-US Indigenous Crisis Line at 1-800-588-8717
From all of us at RE/MAX…
THANK YOU to everyone helping out on the front lines. Firefighters, emergency personnel, volunteers, and everyone involved – we as a community are extremely grateful! Your bravery and courage in the face of uncertainty is remarkable.
Stay safe & connected!