British Columbians encouraged to prepare for climate-related hazards
As warmer weather approaches, British Columbians are encouraged to be prepared for the possibility of climate-related hazards, such as floods and wildfires, which are becoming increasingly common.
Flooding may occur in the spring and early summer when the snowpack melts and water levels rise. According to the River Forecast Centre, the average provincial snowpack is slightly below normal, with some regions experiencing well above normal snowpack levels.
“Spring is a time of change and renewal, but it can also bring unpredictable weather patterns that may cause emergencies,” said Bowinn Ma, Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness. “If we all take proactive steps to prepare for these events, we can better protect ourselves, our loved ones and our homes, while minimizing the impact of these increasingly common occurrences.”
To prepare for the potential of flooding, people should put together an emergency kit, which includes essentials such as water, non-perishable food, medication and a first-aid kit. People are also encouraged to have an evacuation plan in place and stay informed about weather alerts.
People living in low-lying areas are encouraged to move equipment and other assets to higher ground and clear perimeter drains, eavestroughs and gutters. A rapid change in water levels – especially a drop – may indicate a problem upstream. If something out of the ordinary is suspected, call the fire, police or public works department immediately.
Looking beyond flooding caused by heavy rain or melting snow, known as freshet, people should be prepared for extreme heat, wildfires and drought. October 2022 was one of the driest and warmest Octobers on record, elevating drought conditions across the province.
“As a result of drought conditions, the BC Wildfire Service is observing more advanced fire behaviour than what is typical at this time of year,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Forests. “Given the current conditions, we are urging the public to exercise caution as the majority of spring wildfires are caused by people and are therefore preventable.”
The Province is encouraging people to ensure they are aware of open burning regulations before lighting a fire of any size and to create a buffer zone around their property clear of debris and flammable material, such as wood piles, dry leaves and fuel.
During extreme heat events, it’s important to stay cool and hydrated to avoid heat exhaustion or heatstroke. People should limit outdoor activity, drink plenty of water and regularly check in on friends, neighbours and family members.
People can learn more about preparing for climate-related hazards at: http://preparedbc.com./
- This year, the Province committed an additional $180 million to the Community Emergency Preparedness Fund, bringing the total investment to $369 million since its establishment in 2017. The Community Emergency Preparedness Fund helps local governments and First Nations prepare for the risks of natural hazards and lessen the effects before disasters happen.
- The Province also launched ClimateReadyBC, which provides hazard and mapping tools, risk data and resources to help communities better prepare for future disasters and climate emergencies.
- Spring 2022, the Province expanded the ability to issue emergency alerts through Alert Ready, the national alerting system, for floods, wildfires and extreme heat emergencies, in addition to tsunamis.
- The Province issued emergency alerts for wildfire evacuations in summer 2022.
- Summer 2022, the Province launched upgrades to Emergency Support Services, including direct deposit payment for evacuees and online pre-registration.
To see the Flood Preparedness Guide, visit: www.preparedbc.ca/floods
For tips about how to prepare grab-and-go bags, visit: www.preparedbc.ca/emergencykit
For information about evacuation alerts and orders, visit: www.emergencyinfobc.ca
To learn about flood conditions and advisories, visit the River Forecast Centre: www.gov.bc.ca/riverforecast
To learn about how to prepare for wildfires, visit firesmartbc.ca/
To learn more about open burning safety, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/wildfire-status
For more information about ClimateReadyBC, visit www.ClimateReadyBC.ca
To pre-register with ESS, visit: ess.gov.bc.ca
Real-time wildfire information can be found on the BC Wildfire Service mobile app, which is available for Apple and Android users.