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Here's a list of resources you'll need to prepare for a B.C. wildfire emergency

We've assembled a list of links and resources to help you this wildfire season
An image from the 2018 Shovel Lake Wildfire. (via Facebook/BC Wildfire Service)

Now that wildfire season is already upon us, it’s time to get prepared. As the weather gets hotter and more fires are reported, we’ve compiled a list of helpful links to the resources you’ll need during wildfire season.

First off, if you encounter a wildfire report it to 1 800 663-5555 or *5555 on a cell.

51139331_10156730050510673_8415628287799197696_nThe B.C. Wildfire Service provides up-to-date information on wildfires in the province. (via Facebook/ BC Wildfire service)

Where to look for wildfire information:

B.C. Wildfire Service is your hub for essential wildfire related information. This includes fire bans, wildfire activity and fire danger ratings.

Links to wildfires of note, wildfire maps and Emergency Info B.C. can all be found directly on its homepage. They are also on twitter @BCGovFireInfo and Facebook.

If you can’t access B.C. Wildfire Service online call the Fire Information line: 1 888 336-7378. 

Local Government websites:

It’s important to check your local government websites because evacuations are called by local governments, and you will hear about evacuation alerts or orders through your local governments first.

Many local governments, including Prince George and the Regional District of Fraser Fort George, will allow you to sign up for emergency alerts. Cities and regional districts also have publically available emergency plans and procedures available, like Kamloops and the Thompson-Nicola Regional District.

If you’re active on social media make sure you’re following your local government’s official accounts on Facebook and Twitter, because that’s another avenue to stay connected and hopefully received the latest information

Further Information regarding local government websites, contacts, and Regional Districts can also be found at Civic Info B.C.

Emergency Info B.C.:

Emergency info B.C. is a resource that is active during partial and full-scale provincial emergencies. There you can find official responses and recovery sources, as well as verified event information from trusted partners.

There you will be able to find a list of all evacuation orders and alerts in the province, as well as other helpful information.

Important definitions to understand:

There are a lot of specific terms that are used during wildfire season, and it’s important to understand what they mean and the difference between certain words.

The B.C. Wildfire Service has a wildfire glossary online where you can look up the definition of any wildfire-related term.

Here are a few frequently used terms and what they mean:

  • Evacuation Order: This means you need to leave the area immediately.
  • Evacuation Alert: This means you must prepare to evacuate your premises or property should it be found necessary.
  • Wildfires of note: Wildfires of note are wildfires which are highly visible or which pose a potential threat to public safety.
  • Blow-up: A sudden and unexpected major increase in rate of spread and frontal fire intensity; sufficient to upset overall fire suppression action or plans. Blow-ups can result from small or large fire situations.
  • Contained: The status of a wildfire suppression action signifying that a control line has been completed around the fire, and any associated spot fires, which can reasonably be expected to stop the fire's spread.
  • Fuel: any organic matter living or dead in the ground, on the ground or in the air that can ignite or burn.
  • Interface fire: A fire that has the potential to involve buildings and forest fuel or vegetation simultaneously.
  • Mop up: The act of extinguishing a fire after it as been brought under control.
  • Holdover fire: a fire that remains dormant and undetected for a considerable time after it starts.

Helpful Maps:

Maps are useful, because they help put a lot of information into a digestible visual context.

The B.C. Wildfire Service has a map tool that allows you to see all of the active and inactive wildfires in the province at once.

The data is refreshed from operational systems nightly to the public map, but it might not reflect the current fire situation and should only be used as a reference.

Drive B.C. also has a map that shows you the road conditions throughout the province, so you can visually check for closures and other hazards throughout the province.

You can also follow Drive B.C. on Twitter, where you’ll be able to see all the important updates. If you don’t have internet access you can call Drive B.C. at 1-800-550-4997 for highway updates. 

What to put in a go-bag:

grab-and-go-twA Grab-and-Go bag infographic. (via Prepared BC)
If you suddenly find yourself under an evacuation alert or evacuation order, it’s important and beneficial to have a few things prepared so you can be ready to go at a moment’s notice.

Prepared B.C. has an online tool with a fill-in-the-blank survey that can help you make an Emergency Plan for your household, apartment, condo, pets, or business.

Prepared BC also has resources to help you build your Emergency Kit and Grab and Go Bag including basic supply lists.  An Emergency Kit is meant to contain everything you’d need in case you’re stuck at home during an emergency.

As far as Grab-and-Go Bags go, the organization says to be ready to go by having a smaller version of your emergency kit in an easy-to-access place in your home. In addition to having one at home, create grab-and-go bags for your workplace and vehicles.

That’s because if an evacuation alert suddenly turns to an evacuation order and you’re not at home, you may not be able to go back to get your go bag.

Prepared BC says your go bag should contain:

  • Food (ready to eat) and water
  • 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
  • Copy of your emergency plan, 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
  • Whistle

Air Quality:

During wildfire season, even if you are not affected by an evacuation alert or order, it’s likely you’ll be affected by the wildfire smoke.

Last year during the wildfires, B.C.’s air pollution levels were among the world’s worst. Very young, very old, and people with certain health conditions can be especially negatively impacted by poor air quality.

B.C. Air Quality has a online resource which allows you to find the current and forecast Air Quality Health Index to help you understand what the air quality around you means to your health. It also has an app you can download, to easily check the air quality on your phone.

There’s also an interactive map you can check out of all of the Air Monitoring Stations in the province.

You can also check map at the Smoke Forecast page at BlueSky Canada for up to date information.


Hanna Petersen

About the Author: Hanna Petersen

Born and raised in Prince George, Hanna Petersen is a graduate of UNBC. She then abandoned her hometown for the East Coast, graduating with a bachelor of journalism from the University of King's College in the process.
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