Evacuation alerts and evacuation orders - here's what to do if it happens to you

Evacuation 1

Due to the ongoing threat of wildfires to communities and citizens, many communities around British Columbia have been put on evacuation order or evacuation alert, and the Province is asking people to be prepared.

Individuals in communities that have been placed under an evacuation alert must be prepared to leave their homes on short notice. Those who have been placed under an evacuation order must leave the area immediately. In such stressful circumstances, the most important thing to remember is to stay calm, listen to local public officials, and if possible, access online social media channels like BC Wildfire, the EmergencyInfoBC Twitter page or your local government website for information updates.

Information to help those who may have to prepare for an evacuation alert or evacuation order follows.

Evacuation alert

In the event an evacuation alert is issued for your area:

* Prepare to leave your home on short notice.

* Stay tuned to your local authority's public information channels, as well as EmergencyInfoBC for updates: http://www.emergencyinfobc.gov.bc.ca

* Have your emergency kit and important documents ready to go, which should include things like insurance and personal papers, such as birth certificates. Also pack:
* several days' clothing;

* medicine/prescriptions;

* comfort items for children, like a favourite toy or colouring books to help keep them busy; and

* leashes, carriers and food for pets.

* Consider collecting precious photos and mementoes that cannot be replaced.

Also, check in on any family, friends or neighbours who may need a helping hand due to mobility or other issues.

Evacuation order

In the event of an evacuation order, you must leave the area immediately. Local authorities will not ask you to leave without good reason, and failing to leave when asked by officials puts you and others at risk. When an evacuation order is issued:

* Wear a long-sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes to help protect from unforeseen hazards.

* Collect family members or go to the place designated in your family plan as a meeting place.

* Plan to take pets with you; do not leave them behind. Because pets are not permitted in public shelters, follow your plan to go to a relative or friend's home, or find a pet-friendly hotel.

* Grab your emergency kit and follow the directions to the identified reception centre.

* Follow the routes specified by emergency officials. Avoid shortcuts - they could lead to a blocked or dangerous area.

* Take critical items already in your kit (medicine, purse, wallet and keys).

* Take pets in kennels or on a leash.

* Close all doors and windows. Close and latch gates, but do not lock them.

* Take a cellphone if you have one.

* If there is time and it is safe to do so, shut off water at the main line into your home and switch off electricity at the breaker panel. Leave natural gas service "on."

* Stay well away from any downed power lines.

* If going to an evacuation centre, sign up with the registration desk so you can be contacted or reunited with family and loved ones.

* Contact your out-of-area emergency contact (identified in your personal emergency plan) to let them know what has happened, that you are alright and how to contact you. Alert them to any separated family members.

Local authority officials will advise when it is safe to return home.

Evacuees are encouraged to register online, if they have not already done so, at: https://ess.gov.bc.ca/

Learn More:

For information on evacuation orders and alerts, visit EmergencyInfoBC: https://www.emergencyinfobc.gov.bc.ca/

Keep up-to-date on the provincial wildfire situation: www.bcwildfire.ca

Road closures: http://www.drivebc.com

Wildfire preparedness: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/emergency-preparedness-response-recovery/preparedbc/know-your-hazards/wildfires (http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/emergency-preparedness-response-recovery/preparedbc/know-the-risks/wildfires