Vernon emergency management FAQs

What you need to know in the event of an emergency

Every municipality and regional district in the Province of BC is required to have an emergency program in place under the BC Emergency Program Act.

The City of Vernon’s Emergency Program is managed by Vernon Fire Rescue Services.

The Emergency Program is responsible for the direction and control of a coordinated response to—and recovery from—a major emergency event or disaster. This is accomplished through prevention and mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery activities.

Resources engaged to provide effective responses include trained and practiced emergency management personnel, community volunteers and emergency plans that reflect the risks inherent to the area.

Emergency programs do not coordinate or facilitate daily emergency response activities of the RCMP, fire rescue services, BC Ambulance Service or public works departments. The program is designed to support these agencies with required resources when they have depleted those initially available to them.

During an emergency event, like the flooding that the Okanagan region is experiencing, questions are bound to arise about response and recovery.

Frequenty asked questions:

What are the stages of evacuation?

  • Evacuation Alert: People should be prepared to evacuate the area. If not already prepared, use this undetermined period of time to begin an orderly preparation for possible evacuation orders. People may wish to self-evacuate; this is only an alert.
  • Evacuation Order: People have been ordered to evacuate the area. This is an order means that the affected population is at risk. An Emergency Reception & Information Centre will be set up; you will be given the location and are asked to register in.
  • Evacuation Rescind: The population that was ordered out of the area previously may now return as the danger has passed. People are requested to remain ready and alert in case the situation changes. If this occurs, RCMP will alert everyone in the impacted area.
  • Tactical Evacuation: The emergency does not allow for any warnings to prepare to evacuate. This evacuation is immediate due to threat to life safety.
  • Declaration of Local State of Emergency: Declared by a local government when an emergency or disaster within its jurisdiction requires access to the extraordinary emergency powers of the Emergency Program Act.

Do I have to leave my home if there is an evacuation order?

There is currently no authority under the Emergency Program Act or in other legislation to compel competent adults to leave their private property after an evacuation order is made—emergency responders warn people of the imminent risks of remaining in an area subject to evacuation, but ultimately rely on people to voluntarily evacuate.

What should I do to prepare for an evacuation?

Upon notification of an alert, you should be prepared for the evacuation order by:

  • Locating all family members or co-workers and designating a meeting place outside the evacuation area, should an evacuation be called while separated.
  • Gathering essential items such as medications, eyeglasses, valuable papers (i.e. insurance), immediate care needs for dependents and, if you choose, keepsakes, photographs, etc. Have these items readily available for quick departure.
  • Preparing to move any disabled persons and/or children.
  • Moving pets and livestock to a safe area.
  • Arranging to transport your household members or co-workers in the event of an evacuation order.
  • Arranging accommodation for your family if possible. In the event of an evacuation, Reception Centres will be opened if required.

Will the City turn off my services in the event of an evacuation order?

No. However, the City will inform service providers such as Fortis BC and BC Hydro that an evacuation order has been issued. Those providers may decide to cut off services for health and safety reasons.

Who is responsible for protecting private property?

Homeowners are responsible for ensuring that their homes are protected during an emergency event. The City is responsible for protecting municipal assets such as roads, pipes and facilities.

Who should I call if my house or property is flooded?

Call your home insurance provider immediately. Be sure to take photos of any damage.

What is the City’s response plan? What is the City’s recovery plan?

The City of Vernon is closely monitoring all flood threats within the City and communicating with the Province of B.C. to ensure that response plans are consistent with best practices and recommendations from Emergency Management B.C. The City is dedicated to the protection of City-owned roads, pipes and facilities, and providing residents with materials necessary to protect their homes.

Once the threat of flooding has passed, the City will begin the recovery phase. This will include repairs to beaches, parks, lake accesses, roads, pipes or facilities damaged by the flood. Additionally, residents will be advised on the disposal of sandbags. Sandbags can be contaminated and precautions should be used to protect individuals and the environment. The sandbags used in the flood response should be removed and adequately disposed of after it is safe to do so.

  • It is important to wear gloves and boots to protect yourself from scrapes and potential contaminants.
  • Due to the potential of contamination, residents are advised to not use the sand in playgrounds, sandboxes or other areas where there might be direct human contact.
  • Sand should not be disposed of in a wetland, waterway, flood plain or other environmentally sensitive or protected area.

Individuals are reminded they should always wash their hands with soap and warm water after contact with floodwaters or handling items that have come into contact with floodwaters.

My home has been affected by the flood. Is there any assistance available?

You may be eligible for flood assistance. Check with Red Cross and the provincial government to see if you can claim flood-related expenses.

Be Prepared

Residents have a responsibility to be prepared for disasters and emergencies. In the event of an emergency, you should be prepared to be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours. Knowing what to do is an important part of being prepared. Those who are well prepared can minimize some of the challenges incurred during the initial response and after recovery to a major incident. Many resources are available through a variety of sources and are noted on the following page:

Make a plan

By developing a plan, it will ensure that you and your family know what to do in case of an emergency. Review the plan with each member of your family and involve them in the planning process. Keep a copy of this plan in an easy to find and easy to remember place. You may want to keep a copy in your car.

Remember to include the following in your plan:

  • Meeting Place
  • Escape Routes
  • Out of Province Contact
  • Emergency Contact Information
  • Utility Mains
  • Choose Two Meeting Places (one just outside your home and one outside your neighbourhood should you be requested to evacuate the area)
  • Plan escape routes from each room of the house. Try to identify two different routes.
  • Only one contact should be selected and make sure all family members know who to call if they are separated from you.
  • Compile a list of emergency contact information in order to have it readily available.
  • Locate utility mains and make sure family members know when and how to turn them off.

Build a kit

After a major disaster, the usual services we take for granted, such as running water, refrigeration and telephones maybe unavailable. Experts recommend that you should be prepared to be self-sufficient for at least three days. Store your household disaster kit in an easily accessible location. Put contents in a large, watertight container (e.g. a large plastic garbage can with a lid and wheels) that can move easily.

The basic emergency kit will help you get through the first 72 hours of an emergency, suggested items are as follows:

  • Water – two litres of water per person per day
  • Food – non-perishable such as canned food, energy bars and dried foods (remember a can opener)
  • First Aid Kit along with instructions
  • Warm Clothes and Blankets – don’t forget footwear and rain gear
  • Flashlight and Batteries
  • Garbage Bags and Buckets
  • Basic Tools – hammer, pliers, wrench, screwdrivers, etc.
  • Personal Care Products – don’t forget the toilet paper
  • Special Items – such as medication, infant formula, glasses, etc.
  • Candles and Matches

In addition to the basic kit, the City recommends you also have the following additional emergency supplies. You will then be well equipped for even the worst emergency situation.

  • Two additional litres of water per person per day
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Utensils, can opener
  • Household chlorine bleach
  • Small stove and fuel
  • Duct tape
  • Whistle
  • Radio (battery powered or wind-up)
  • Cash

Don’t have the time to make a kit? You can buy an emergency kit online and in many stores in your area. The Canadian Red Cross has a kit available at www.redcross.ca and the St. John’s Ambulance and The Salvation Army have jointly prepared an emergency kit that is available at www.sja.ca

Grab and go bag

Many emergencies and disasters require a rapid evacuation of your home or your office. Prepare one Grab and Go-bag for each family member and make sure each has an ID tag. You may not be at home when an emergency strikes, so keep some additional supplies in your car and at work. Here are a few important items to include:

  • Food that won’t spoil
  • Blanket
  • Candle and matches
  • Important documents
  • Battery operated radio
  • Personal Care Products
  • Garbage bags and buckets
  • Water
  • Change of clothing
  • First Aid Kit
  • Money
  • Medications/Prescriptions
  • Basic Tools
  • Plan for People with Special Needs

Plan for pets

In the event of a disaster in which you must evacuate, the most important thing you can do to protect your pet(s) is to evacuate them too. Most disaster shelters cannot accept pets because of health and safety regulations. It is up to you to find a safe place for them, so prepare now for the day when you may have to leave your home.

  • Check with local hotels/motels to find out their pet policy and keep a list.
  • Ask friends or relatives, not located near your home, if they could shelter your animals.
  • Prepare a list of boarding facilities and veterinarians who could shelter animals.
  • Ask local SPCA if they provide emergency shelter or foster care for pets in a disaster. The SPCA may be overburden caring for animals they already have, as well as those displaced by the disaster, so make sure to plan with this in mind.

Related: Okanagan-Shuswap flood watch to intensify over next week


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