Volunteers are active with Emergency Social Services in Summerland In the back row from left are John Topham

Early planning for emergencies urged

During an emergency, you and your family could be on your own for some time or be asked to evacuate your home.

The Okanagan has experienced some of the worst emergency crises in Canada with its wildfires.

During an emergency, you and your family could be on your own for some time or be asked to evacuate your home. It may take emergency workers some time to get to you if there is a large event.

As well, access to phones, gas, water, sewer and electrical services may be cut off. Learning how to be personally prepared is critical to your family’s safety.

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 to assemble your family emergency kit.

In a disaster when you are asked to evacuate your home, there is often no time to collect emergency supplies. Ensure you have grab-and-go kits for your home, office and vehicle.

They should all contain water and supplies for a minimum of 72 hours.

You may have some of the items already, such as food, water and a battery operated or wind-up flashlight, medicines and copies of important identification.

Make sure your kit is easy to carry and everyone in the household knows where it is.  Keep it in a backpack, duffle bag or suitcase with wheels, in an easy-to-reach, accessible place, such as your front-hall closet.

Develop a family plan to help you cope with the stress of emergencies. It should:

o Identify safe exits from your home and neighbourhood;

o Select a meeting place to re-unite with family;

o Have contact information for an out-of-area friend who will be a “check in contact” for everyone to call.

o Consider evacuation options for family members with mobility concerns or other disabilities and

o Consider who will care for pets.

Your Summerland Emergency Social Services (ESS) team is there to help, offering 72 hours of food, shelter and clothing in the event of evacuation under the Provincial Emergency Management Program.

In a large emergency event, if you are evacuated, you will be asked to report to your local Emergency Reception Center. There, trained volunteers can provide support for you and even your pets to help you through this emergency.

Even with the above support, it is critical that you are prepared for an Emergency. Start on your Emergency Plan this week and put together your Grab and Go bag. For more information call ESS Director John Topham at 250-494-6434 or Fire Chief Glenn Noble at  250-494-7211.

Useful Websites with more information are www.get prepared.gc.ca and http://embc.go.bc.ca/em/hazard_preparedness/Personal_Safety.html.