British Columbia is currently facing the worst wildfire season on record, with more than 1.5 million hectares of land lost to the fires burning across the province. As fires continue to burn and spread, preparation has never been more important. Now is the time to understand your risk rating, know what to do in the event of an emergency, and learn about some critical last-minute FireSmart tips that could save your property. To support residents in these endeavours, FireSmart BC has redesigned our website homepage.
With this redesign, FireSmart BC strives to share important resources this wildfire season and provide crucial information that can help you and your family stay safe while protecting your home. While the threat of wildfire is more prominent for some communities than others, it’s important for every resident to do their part and ensure that they’re prepared as conditions can change within moments. To put it another way, wildfire won’t wait for you to make a plan. That’s why it’s important to have a detailed plan in place, even if you live in a low- to moderate-risk area.
When building your plan, it’s important to have the right resources to refer to. The new FireSmart BC homepage is designed to be a hub for these resources, giving you everything you need to create a plan, prepare, and perform other actions that will ensure you, your family, and your home are ready for wildfire.
Now is The Time to Act
Instead of reacting to wildfire, it’s better to be proactive. Now is the time to make a plan, understand your wildfire risk level, and perform some simple actions to increase the resilience of your home. If you perform each of the following actions in advance, you’ll drastically reduce the risk of structural damage or total loss of your home due to wildfire:
1. Monitor the Current Wildfire Situation
As your first step, you should monitor the Current Wildfire Situation Map from the BC Wildfire Service. This will help you understand your wildfire risk level and determine which actions you should prioritize for your property.
2. Create a Detailed Evacuation Plan
Next, you’ll need to stay educated on what to do and how to prepare for a wildfire event. Prepared BC has a wealth of information that will help you create an evacuation plan for yourself and your family as well as your pets, ensuring that every member of your household is accounted for should an evacuation alert or order be issued for your community. In addition to your own household, consider reaching out to vulnerable individuals in your community to ensure they are also prepared. This will help to ensure that you, your family, and your community as a whole are ready to respond to wildfire.
3. Prepare Your Home
Once a detailed evacuation plan has been created for everyone within your home, it’s time to prepare the exterior of your property using the FireSmart Begins at Home Guide. Once known as the Homeowner’s Manual, this comprehensive guide outlines a variety of tasks that you can perform to increase the fire resilience of your home. Some of these tasks include:
- Cleaning all debris out from under your deck.
- Clearing out your gutters and removing flammable debris (leaves, needles, branches, etc.) from your roof.
- Keeping grass watered and cut below 10 cm. All weeds should also be regularly removed as they’re highly flammable.
- Relocating all propane tanks, firewood piles, and other combustible materials to a distance of at least 10 m away from your home and other structures (sheds, outbuildings, etc.).
- Pruning trees to remove branches within 2 m of the ground.
By performing these tasks and staying on top of routine maintenance, you and your home will be ready in the event of an evacuation alert or order.
4. Monitor Current Evacuation Alerts and Orders
It’s also important to check the list of current evacuation alerts and orders so you can better understand the risk level of your community and be prepared should an order be issued for your area. If an alert is issued for your area, the FireSmart Last Minute Checklist will help to ensure that you, your family, and your home are in the best possible position to respond to a wildfire or evacuation order. This updated document contains pertinent information including evacuation preparation tips and a detailed list of some last-minute actions that can be performed to increase the wildfire resiliency of your property before an evacuation order is issued.
While an evacuation alert means that you need to be ready to leave at a moment’s notice, an evacuation order means that the time to prepare is over. Should an evacuation order be issued for your area, you need to leave immediately. During this level of emergency, your local evacuation centre should be your first point of contact. Be sure to follow all instructions during an evacuation order and stay up to date on the latest information whenever it is safe to do so.
By completing the steps listed above, you will ensure that every member of your household and your property itself are in the best possible condition to respond to a wildfire. Remember, it’s better to have a plan and not need it than to need a plan and not have one. If you’re reading this article, you’re already in the right place for crucial information this wildfire season. Visit our updated homepage to see all of these resources and more. If you feel prepared, share our website with your community and with individuals whose homes may become at risk. There’s no such thing as being too prepared, especially in the face of wildfire.