The British Columbia government has released the new Wildfire Preparedness Guide.
The 20-page guide is the first of its kind and as its title suggests is dedicated completely to wildfire preparedness.
“The probability of damaging wildfires has increased in recent years, due in part to the effects of climate change. If you live in a risk area, it’s imperative that you take time to get ready,” the guide said in its introductory comments.
It features information from before, during and after wildfires, representing “the complete disaster cycle, from mitigation and preparedness to wildfire response and recovery,” as Tara Gostelow, spokesperson with Emergency Management BC told Lakes District News.
The guide advises that before a wildfire households should prepare emergency plans for when disaster strikes. It specifically suggests that people keep their phones fully charged, have contact lists of family and emergency numbers and make a closed Facebook group where members can check in during emergencies.
Households should have grab-and-go bags containing essential items – applicable to both humans and pets – like clothes, food, flashlight, radio and first aid kits in case people need to leave their homes on short notice.
The “before” preparedness stage also includes having the home and property FireSmarted to remove combustible debris and reduce the risk of wildfires causing more damage.
During a wildfire, the guide first stresses that people follow the instructions of authorities, especially evacuation orders and alerts.
Gostelow said several parts of the guide include pertinent themes identified by the public over the past two wildfire seasons. They include health-focussed advice on managing wildfire smoke exposure, how to manage anxiety related to wildfires and evacuations and information on insuring property and understanding the policy entitlements.
Among the points for after the wildfire, the guide states that help is available 24 hours a day through BC’s Mental Health Support Line at 310-6789 (no area code) for those feeling the need for help following traumatic events, and through the First Nations Health Authority at 1-800-588-8717.
It was made in partnership with BC FireSmart and the Office of the Fire Commissioner.