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VIDEO: Pack your grab-and-go bag before the evacuation alert

Being prepared is a priority as wildfires burn throughout the province

With the various wildfires burning throughout the B.C. Interior, including several evacuation alerts and orders, it’s important to be prepared.

Kelowna Fire Department’s deputy chief of emergency management, Sandra Follack, said that residents often only have two minutes before they need to leave when an evacuation order comes down.

“Do you think you can pack a bag with all your essentials in that time? If you’re not prepared, you might leave something important behind,” she said.

READ MORE: July Mountain wildfire 1 kilometre away from Coq highway

In high-stress and panic situations such as an evacuation, evacuees often don’t have the time to think clearly about what they may need. That’s why she says it’s important to pack a grab-and-go bag early, well before the authorities knock on your door.

Follack also said that every grab-and-go kit will differ from person to person and from family to family, especially if you have children or pets.

The basics, however, are similar enough. Each bag should have:

  • Enough food and water for at least 72 hours, including snacks and dry food items in case you have to stop on the side of the road,
  • A first aid kit with current medication including prescriptions, pain killers and scissors
  • A warm jacket or sweater in case you end up somewhere chilly,
  • A change of clothes and shoes,
  • A battery-powered transistor radio so you can know what the latest update is on fires in your area given that you may not always have Internet access,
  • A phone charger and power bank,
  • An extra set of car keys,
  • Paper copies of insurance, prescriptions as well as phone numbers,
  • Masks and gloves, hand sanitizer or wet wipes,
  • Flashlight and cash.

“We’re thinking about (hand sanitizers) now because of COVID, but this is good for anything,” she said.

“You might not have water (where you end up) and you don’t want to use your drinking water to wash your hands. You need something to keep yourself clean before you’re eating.”

READ MORE: Wildfire worries continue: Fire risk remains high to extreme over most of southern B.C.

In a world that relies heavily on technology and personal devices, Follack said it’s important to keep a paper copy of important documents and identification, especially if electricity isn’t readily available to charge phones and laptops.

Once you have the basics, then you can add in all the other things you and others in your family may need: glasses, toiletries, small toys and other items you, your children or pets may need.

She said it’s also important to let several people know your situation and where you plan to go: this way, there will be less confusion and one way or another, you’ll be accounted for.

More information on making emergency plans and building emergency kits can be found on the province’s website.

READ MORE: Emergency services extended for those evacuated from Nk’Mip fire


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Twila Amato

About the Author: Twila Amato

Twila was a radio reporter based in northern Vancouver Island. She won the Jack Webster Student Journalism Award while at BCIT and received a degree in ancient and modern Greek history from McGill University.
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