As wildfires burn in British Columbia’s Southern Interior, Summerland fire chief Rob Robinson is urging people to take measures now in case they need to evacuate later.
“Because we live in a semi-desert dry area, it’s a good idea to be prepared,” he said.
He said people should have lists of what they can take with five minutes, 30 minutes, one hour or one day of notice. Essentials should be packed and ready before an emergency occurs.
“You should already be prepared before anything happens,” he said.
He added that it is a good idea to practice the plan before an evacuation order occurs.
Emergency preparedness information is available on the municipality’s website at summerland.ca/city-services/fire-protection/emergency-preparedness?pname=Emergency%20Preparedness. The site has information on preparing an emergency kit and setting up a disaster plan.
This year, British Columbia’s wildfire season is the worst on record, with more than 1.6 million hectares destroyed. The majority of this year’s fire damage has been in the Prince George Fire Centre region in northeastern British Columbia, but fires have raged in the Okanagan and Similkameen as well.
In addition, fires have come close to populated areas in previous years.
The 1996 Giant’s Head Mountain Park wildfire in Summerland was in a park surrounded on all sides by homes. The fire came within metres of some residential property lines.
In 2003, more than 33,000 people in the Okanagan were evacuated during the Okanagan Mountain Park wildfire. In 2018, fires reached the edge of Summerland during extreme conditions that year.
Robinson said the preparations for an evacuation in case of a wildfire will also help during other emergencies such as flooding.
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