Natural disasters—such as floods and wildfires—or technological or environmental accidents like chemical spills or transportation incidents can strike your community at any time. If you're unprepared for a disaster, it can shatter your life. Your best defense is to be prepared.
Know the Risks - Have a Plan - Get a Kit
In the RDCK, the four most likely emergencies to occur are Wildfires, floods, landslides and hazardous materials spills.
This page will help you learn about how to prepare for disasters that might strike here in the Kootenays. Click on one of the topics below to learn more about:
Here's what you will find on this page:
Are you prepared?
Each year, thousands of people face emergency situations that could change their lives forever. Don't be caught off-guard. Know the hazards in your area and take the time now to assemble your family "Grab and Go" Emergency Kit and plan where you will go if you need to evacuate. Remeber to inlude your pets.
Getting your family prepared for an emergency may seem like a lot of work, but it will be easier if you do a little at a time, as your resources and budget permit. The important thing is to start preparing now. The more you do to prepare, the more confident you will be that you can protect yourself and your family when disaster strikes.
In potentially life-threatening circumstances, the RDCK may issue an Evacuation Alert or an Evacuation Order to residents living in a hazard area. Any Evacuation Alerts or Orders will be communicated through the RDCK Emergency Notification System. Information related to current emergencies will also be posted on: The EOC Information page, your local radio stations, Facebook and Twitter.
British Columbia's one-stop-shop for disaster readiness. Visit their website to learn how to prepare your home, family, business or neighbourhood for potential disasters.
PreparedBC provides detailed information and personal plans to help prepare for floods, wildfires, and many more emergencies.
Public Safety Canada
Public Safety Canada works in collaboration with other federal departments and provincial and territorial governments, academia, national associations and non-governmental organizations to strengthen national emergency preparedness. Visit their Emergency Preparedness web page to learn more about how the federal government is helping to keep communities safe and resilient.
RDCK Emergency Management Program
Protecting public safety is the priority of government. When emergencies occur, several agencies must work together to assist people with evacuations and access to shelter, water and food. The RDCK has emergency plans in place to protect our citizens and, in the event of an emergency, and with support from the Provincial government, will activate our emergency operations centre (EOC) to coordniate the activities to protect your safety. Learn more about our Emergency Management Program in the RDCK.
In extreme conditions, some people may want to make arrangements to stay with relatives, friends or neighbours. Listen to weather forecasts and instructions from local officials, as reception or warming centres may be set up in your community. Keep an eye out for neighbours who may be at-risk in severe conditions. Always follow the instructions of first responders and local emergency officials.
Ensure a supply of basic essentials in your home for at least 72 hours. If you must leave your home on short notice, remember to take your "Grab and Go" Emergency Kit. The most important items are:
- Emergency supplies including water and food
- First aid kit
- Important documents, cash and family identification
- Fueled up vehicle
- Pets / Pet itmes: food, water, leash and carrier
- Grab & Go Kit [PDF - 138 KB]
What is the purpose of an evacuation alert?
- An evacuation alert is a warning about a potential imminent threat to life and property. It is a precautionary measure. It is meant to give affected residents within an impacted area time to prepare in case they are told to evacuate.
- On the Alert, residents should make lodging plans with family, friends or commercial accomodations.
- If you live outside of the evacuation alert zone but are concerned about the situation, you may wish to prepare for possible evacuation or self evacuate to friends or family out of the risk area.
- Evacuation Alerts are active until the Rescind Notification is published.
How do I prepare for an evacuation?
- Monitor the RDCK EOC Information page and local media updates.
- Gather your "Grab & Go" Emergency Kit, and other important documents and valaubles
- Consider small children, the elderly, or anyone that may need more time to evacuate.
- Plan for your pets. It may be best to evacuate certain pets on the Alert.
- Follow the instructions of local emergency and transportation officals.
How is the area in the evacuation alert determined?
- The RDCK EOC personnel works directly with qualified professionnals and other governement agencies to determine the Alert Perimeter.
What if I'm in the evacuation alert zone as identified on maps but I didn't receive a notice from emergency personnel?
- Please contact us directly so that we can verify that you are in the alert zone. Phone 1-800-268-7325 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is an Evacuation Order?
- This is an order issued by the RDCK to residents within the affected area that are to leave the area immediately.
- If you are evacuated, local officials will provide you with information about the location of a Reception Centre. Everyone must register at the Reception Centre and this can be done in person or online (ess.gov.bc.ca). This ensures that we know you are safe. We can then communicate this information to concerned family and friends.
- Short term assistance for immediate needs of food, shelter, clothing and emotional support may be available at the Reception Centre. Emergency Support Services volunteers (ESS) provide assistance to people for the first 72 hours after a disaster. Assistance includes needs assessment and referral to services, short term help for food, clothing and shelter, emotional support and family reunification.
Can I decide for myself if I have to evacuate after doing my own assessment of the situation?
- Being aware of what is happening around you is of utmost importance in ensuring you and your family are safe.
- Not all emergencies happen in a way that gives enough time for the authorities to communicate what you need to do, and what you need to be aware of. Maintaining situational awareness means that you are looking out for yourself and paying attention to your environment to notice changes that could indicate a pending event. You could be the person that alerts the authorities!
- It is also good to maintain this situational awareness when there is a known emergency occurring and your area is on an Evacuation Alert. This allows you to make your own decision if you want to leave before an Order is declared--everybody’s threshold for risk is different.
- If you receive an Evacuation Order, you must heed it. When moving from an Evacuation Alert to an Evacuation Order, authorities base their decisions on information that may not be immediately available to the public, which means your situational awareness may not be as good as you think.
- When people choose not to evacuate during an Order, they not only affect the ability of the authorities to respond to the actual emergency, but they also put the safety—and potentially the lives—of the responders at risk if they require rescuing.
- So make sure you maintain situational awareness, but please cooperate with authorities when it comes to Evacuation Orders. It might mean your life, or someone else’s.
May I return briefly to my home during an Evacuation Order?
- ONLY if you have the permission of the local government and emergency personnel. Security will be in place.
Where will I stay if I'm evacuated?
- It is recommended that you find an alternate place to stay with local accommodations, family or friends. The Reception Centre will be able to provide you with detailed information at the time of the evacuation.
Evacuations and your animals
If I'm evacuated, will my pets be taken care of?
- If you are issued an Evacuation Alert, prepare by having cages for your pets, as well as food and food/water bowls. Also make sure that your pets are wearing identification. Emergency Support Services will have limited space for evacuated pets. If possible, please arrange to have your pets stay with friends or family.
- For more information on Livestock Relocation, please visit:
Most power outages will be over almost as soon as they begin, but some can last much longer - up to days or even weeks. Power outages are often caused by freezing rain, sleet storms and/or high winds which damage power lines and equipment. Cold snaps or heat waves can also overload the electric power system
During a power outage, you may be left without heating/air conditioning, lighting, hot water or even running water. If you only have a cordless phone, you will also be left without phone service. If you do not have a battery-powered or crank radio, you may have no way of monitoring news broadcasts. In other words, you could be facing major challenges.
You can greatly lessen the impact of a power outage by taking the time to prepare in advance. You and your family should be prepared to cope on your own during a power outage for at least 72 hours (see the 72 HR GRAB & GO emergency kit). This involves 3 basic steps:
- Finding out on what to do before, during, and after a power outage.
- Making a family emergency plan, so that everyone knows what to do, and where to go if you need to leave your home.
- Getting an emergency kit, so that you and your family can be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours during a power outage.
Visit the Outages & safety page of the BC Hydro website for more information and tips.
Highway incidents and events
- Visit DriveBC to find out about possible road closures.
- Check the Environment Canada weather forecast before going out (e.g. pay attention to wind chill or heat warnings). Warnings are based on local climate, and are shared via the local media.
- Environment Canada provides a number of weather tools and resources so you can “Get your weather”
- Weather forecasts are available through radio and TV broadcasts, Environment Canada's Weatheradio service, and online at www.weather.gc.ca
- More tips are available on the Severe Weather section of the PreparedBC website
Where to get important information
- The RDCK Emergency Information page is the official channel for the RDCK EOC during active events.
- Monitor before something happens:
- Stay informed during active events:
- The RDCK has collected other phone numbers and websites where the public can get important information during a flood or other emergency. This fact sheet is updated from time to time.
The content on this page was last updated July 18 2021 at 10:13 AM
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