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Emergency preparedness guides available to those who need them in B.C.

The Emergency Preparedness Week, United Way B.C. is encouraging people to have a plan
United Way B.C. suggests having an emergency kit that can provide essentials for at least seven days. (Stock photo)

United Way B.C. has released two emergency preparedness guides as the province moves into Emergency Prepardness Week and another wildfire season.

The two guides, which include one for families and one more specific to seniors, cover how to create a plan in case of extreme weather, what to have on hand in an emergency, how to navigate power loss and more. It includes a checklist, areas where someone can fill in emergency information and a page to map out one’s home with fire extinguishers and exit routes.

Tobias Jones emergency response manager with United Way B.C. said the agency wants people to think about if they were faced with an evacuation order, what would that look like for them.

“A lot of this has come from our experiences supporting those that are displaced in an emergency situation as well as talking to our partner agencies,” Jones said. “Really this is a way to lay the important information together in a handy, accessible place.”

Last year, B.C. experienced the worst wildfire season in the province’s recorded history, and with this year’s record-low snowpack levels, B.C. Wildfire Service has forecasted a high potential for an active spring wildfire season.

“Every year, we see increasingly devastating wildfires affect our province, and this year’s activity have already begun,” United Way B.C. said in a statement. “History has taught us that circumstances can change quickly and dramatically, and it is better to be proactive than reactive.”

In making an emergency kit, families are encouraged to pack for seven days. This means packing at least four litres of water per person per day, enough food for a week that won’t spoil, radio, flashlight, first aid kit, candles and matches, an emergency blanket, emergency poncho, toiletries including tissue, change of clothes and important documents in a large sealable plastic bag. When leaving it’s also important to remember to grab any medication, keys, cash and anything the family pet may require.

Some general things people can do to prepare well ahead of an actual fire includes buying a radio that is either wind-up or battery operated, ensuring access to a fire extinguisher and reviewing any home/tenant’s insurance policy to ensure appropriate coverage.

To prepare for a wildfire season specifically, residents are asked to ensure their address sign is visible for first responders from the road, keep firewood stacked at least nine metres from the building and create a defensible space by removing refuse and debris, as well as thinning trees and brush within nine metres of the residence.

Other tips include learning how to turn off propane tanks and shut off gas at the meter. That should only be done in the case of leaking or an active wildfire, as it will take a technician to turn it back on.

The United Way B.C. guides can be viewed online in full at

“These resources were developed especially for those who may find it difficult to navigate the internet. A limited number of guidebooks will be printed and distributed for seniors,” the agency noted.

United Way also suggests families check out the FireSmart program. The FireSmart program can be found online at, or through a local fire department.

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Jessica Durling

About the Author: Jessica Durling

Nanaimo News Bulletin journalist covering health, wildlife and Lantzville council.
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