With fire danger ratings between high and extreme in the Cariboo, the Red Cross is putting on disaster management information sessions in Quesnel, Williams Lake and 100 Mile House.
Canadian Red Cross disaster management co-ordinator Jesse Bowen says the sessions are something they plan to do regularly, and the ones taking place Aug. 7-8 just happen to have been scheduled as the Cariboo experienced storms that caused 75 new fires in the region since July 30, due to lightning strikes.
Bowen says she’ll be covering two main points in her presentations.
“It’s about preparing for a disaster should people have to evacuate, and also how to get involved with Red Cross if you want to help out in a disaster,” she explains.
The sessions will go over how to create an emergency preparedness plan for your family, including what to pack in an evacuation kit, and what you should be think about for your family situation – for example, what to consider if you have a child with special needs, or how to plan for your pet in an emergency situation.
“It’s about taking care of yourselves in the first 72 hours. Sometimes it can take a bit longer to get food and supplies to locations. By having an evacuation kit, you know you’ll be OK if we have problems getting resources in right away,” Bowen says.
She stresses the need to be prepared. “We all think it’s not going to happen to us, and then it does.”
The second part of the presentation will focus on how people can become a Red Cross volunteer.
“We always need more people on board,” says Bowen. “We have a lot of people show up and want to help when there is a big disaster, but it’s hard to get people trained when we are in the middle of responding.”
Bowen says the more people the Red Cross can get up to speed before a situation strikes, the better.
“By coming on board before, you will have the proper training, and we will have the teams we need to respond. We learned a lot of lessons last year about how to do this,” she says. Volunteers who join at the last minute won’t have the appropriate background checks and criminal record checks required to work with vulnerable people, so will only be able to do limited tasks.
Bowen hopes to find between five and six new volunteers in each of the three towns she’s visiting on this trip, and stresses that the volunteer work can be flexible.
“We have some people who volunteer only in their towns, and others that help in other communities. My belief is that if you want to help, we probably have a place for you.”
The 100 Mile House Red Cross Disaster Management Info Session takes place Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018 from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. at 100 Mile House Council Chambers, 385 Birch Avenue.
The Williams Lake Red Cross Disaster Management Info Session takes place Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018 from 2-4 p.m. at Pioneer Log Homes, 351 Hodgson Road.
The Quesnel Red Cross Disaster Management Info Session will take place Wednesday Aug. 8 from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at Spirit Centre, 246 St Laurent Avenue.