Although there are a relatively low number of emergencies here, we are still exposed to hazards. The risks of climate change and the population encroaching into wild habitat, global pandemics and dangerous goods transported on highways cannot be ignored. Some of these hazards are with us all year round, while others come and go with the seasons.
Summer months have great weather for outdoor activities, but that comes with an increased risk of wildfires. Natural factors such as hot dry weather can cause wildfires, but they are more often started by human activity. Have camp fires safely and put out cigarettes to avoid starting a wildfire. Wildfires can spread quickly and turn into an interface wildfire within hours. If you live near a forested area ensure debris is cleared from around your house and remove anything that is flammable.
Spring freshets dominate news in the spring time. Simple fall maintenance like clearing driveway culverts allows snowmelt to drain away. If you live by a river your chances of being impacted by high river water levels or river bank erosion are increased and taking sustainable, proactive measures could save your home. Rivers and creeks may be dangerous as water levels rise and high water flows can also cause bank erosion and instability. Ditches and culverts can also prove dangerous with fast moving water and debris.
It is a homeowner's responsibility to protect their home and property from flooding. Learn how to build a sandbag dike. It can take two people approximately one hour to fill and place 100 sandbags, enough to build a 20 foot long wall that is one foot high.
Pandemics can range from the common flu to diseases like COVID, SARS and H1N1. Always pay attention to health service announcements and follow recommendations provided. Be extra cautious with older members of the family and younger children, as their ability to fight against diseases is reduced.
Health alerts are listed on the Northern Health website to provide residents with information on protecting your well-being and avoiding illness due to a local health situation like:
Contact HealthLink BC, provincial health information and advice phone line, at 8-1-1 (7-1-1 for deaf and hearing impaired).
Hazardous materials are transported on highways and railways everyday, and they are present in worksites and households. Ensure that hazardous materials are out of the reach of children and are stored according to recommended guidelines. In the workplace, always follow health and safety guidelines when handling and storing any hazardous materials. Ensure all hazardous materials labels are correct and visible, and keep material safety data sheets (MSDS's) in an easy to access location. MSDS's may be needed by first responders to determine how to deal with spills or to provide medical care.
If there is a hazardous material spill, avoid the area and monitor local media for updates. If the spill is a cloud of toxic gas, critical instructions may be given to either evacuate or shelter in place.
Winter and severe weather can bring on weather events such as heavy snow fall, ice storms or high winds that can lead to extended power outages in many areas in the region. If you live an area prone to power outages, take steps to prepare your family and home.
For more details on what to do in a power outage, visit BC Hydro online or call 1-800-BCHYDRO (1-800-224-9376) to report an outage.
Storms can happen at any time of the year, but depending on the time of year, the type of storm will vary. During the summer, severe thunderstorms can have damaging hail or heavy rain and lightening. In the winter, blizzards bring heavy snowfall and whiteout conditions. Freezing rain can cause havoc on the roads and bring down power lines.
Visit Environment Canada for the latest local weather conditions and forecasts.
Heavy rainfall, minor earthquakes or tremors can cause landslides. When travelling, check Drive BC after any prolonged or heavy rainfall to ensure your route is clear. At home, keep hillsides on your property vegetated, as this helps absorb water and slows any run-off that causes the earth to shift.
When planning a winter activity, check online to ensure the area is not under an advisory. Always inform someone of your destination and your expected return time. Carry life-saving equipment such as a transceiver and compact shovel with you at all times. If you are inexperienced, join up with an experienced group and avoid going out on your own.
British Columbia experiences hundreds of earthquakes a year, but most of them are too weak to be felt. However small the perceived risk is, they can still cause serious damage. Most of the land mass within the Regional District is not considered high hazard for earthquakes, however residents often travel to places where the risks are high and should be prepared.
Practice "Drop, Cover and Hold On" drills with your family at home and your co-workers at work. Keep emergency kits at work and home after an impact.