How to get ready for a wildfire evacuation on short notice
Michelle Read owns a small farm about three kilometres outside McBride, B.C., and like many other people living near the municipality, she had to flee last Friday afternoon as an evacuation order was issued for the Teare Creek wildfire.
Read went back to her farm after the order was rescinded on Sunday. She says she was able to quickly leave her home on very short notice thanks to the evacuation plan she had prepared last summer.
"Because I had done that last summer, I didn't have that organized this year, but I had it in my head, so it was easier for me to grab the stuff that I felt important," she told host Carolina de Ryk on CBC's Daybreak North on Tuesday.
"Just write out a plan, and figure out if you have animals. Figure out who can come and get them, or where you can take them if you have a trailer."
Read's advice is timely for people currently living in areas under evacuation alerts, such as those in effect due to the Red Creek and Boundary Lake wildfires in B.C.'s Peace region.
Regional districts in B.C. and the province also maintain websites with information about preparing for an evacuation and the things you may need or need to think about.
Some of the items included in a suggested emergency kit on the province's emergency preparedness website include:
Cash in small bills.
A copy of your emergency plan and copies of important documents, such as insurance papers.
A first-aid kit and medications.
Non-perishable food and four litres of water per person per day.
A phone charger.
For owners of pets and farm animals, the province recommends using its guide to write down information about the animals — including their breeds, health concerns, medications and microchip numbers — and providing those details to family members and friends who could take care of the animals during emergencies.
The province also suggests owners prepare a grab-and-go bag for their animals, including the following items:
Leash, pet restraint, muzzle or harness.
Pet food for three days to one week.
Copy of vaccination records.
Medications and basic pet first aid supplies.
The province also provides other guides on how to prepare for the evacuation of people with disabilities and seniors.
Read says she could see the fire fast approaching her farm as it went from 15 kilometres to just five kilometres away, but the preparation she had done last year took away a lot of the worry and anxiety, and she was able to arrive safely at her brother's house in McBride.
"I just kind of 'boom, boom, boom,' and I got things organized, and my parents packed them in my truck. Then we got the vehicles out on the road, everything was ready to roll."
Emergency alert system test and wildfire tracking
On Wednesday, the province will test the B.C. emergency alert system at 1:55 p.m.
During the test, the public will hear an alert tone and receive a message on radio, television and cellphones indicating the alert is just a test and the information that would have been provided had it been an emergency.
To keep track of wildfires in your area, the B.C. Wildfire Service (BCWS) provides a list of all current wildfires in the province, as well as an interactive map that allows you to see where the fires are burning relative to specific communities.