Kelowna News

Be prepared for emergency wildfire evacuations

Residents in neighbourhoods around the Smith Creek fire in West Kelowna last year were evacuated on short notice.

THOMPSON-OKANAGAN – With an unusually dry and hot summer forecast for the Thompson-Okanagan this summer, regional districts are urging residents to get prepared in case emergency evacuations become necessary.

Central Okanagan Emergency Operations Centre spokesperson Bruce Smith says the best time to make an emergency plan is long before something happens. He recommends residents understand the risks, make a plan and put together an emergency kit they can grab if a situation arises.

“Determine how you’ll communicate with each other should you be in different locations,” he says. “You should be prepared to cope on your own for at least the first 72 hours of an emergency, while first responders and rescue workers fight the immediate threats and help those in urgent need.  By taking a few simple steps, you can become better prepared to face a range of emergencies, anytime, anywhere.”

Kits should contain essential medicines for family members and pets as well as copies of prescriptions. Glasses, toiletries, a change of clothes, flashlights with spare batteries, candles and a lighter, sleeping bags, a first aid kit, cash, dehydrated food, a radio and two litres of drinking water per person per day are also recommended.

In the case of an emergency evacuation, families are also allowed to bring with them irreplaceable items like photos and small, portable heirlooms.

Kelowna Deputy Fire Chief Travis Whiting says during an emergency residents may be without electricity or water and should be prepared to be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours. 

“By taking a few simple steps now, when you and your family are not under the pressure of the clock, you can better prepare to face a range of emergencies, anytime, anywhere.  You should be ready to cope on your own for at least the first 72 hours of an emergency, while first responders and rescue workers fight the immediate threats and help those in urgent need.”

People with pets or farm animals need to make additional plans for their special circumstances.

“Just as you need to look after yourself, as an animal owner you have the responsibility of planning how you’ll meet their needs in an emergency," Smith says. "You should include a pet emergency supply kit with your family one.” 

More information for pet and animal owners is available on the Canadian Disaster Animal Response Team website.

For up-to-date wildfire emergency information:

B.C. Wildfire current fires of note

Central Okanagan Emergency Information website

North Okanagan Emergency Management website

Regional District South Okanagan-Similkameen website

Regional District Thompson-Nicola website

To contact the reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw at or call 250-718-0428. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

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