Get prepared and get pet-pared

Image Credit: Contributed

Over the past 12 years, thousands of Central Okanagan residents have learned first-hand what they should have done, before they got a knock on their door, recommending they leave their home because of a threatening wildfire.  Should they have prepared in advance?  Hind-sight is 20-20!

Bruce Smith, an Information Officer with the Central Okanagan Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) says “Now’s the opportunity for your family to talk about what you’ll do if you’re affected by the next emergency. Know the Risks, Make a Plan and Get a Kit. Determine how you’ll communicate with each other should you be in different locations.”  Emergency Preparedness Week is a good time to make a family plan or review, revise and refresh your existing family emergency plan and Grab and Go kit.

“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.”

A good place to start is by visiting the Central Okanagan Regional Emergency Program website  You can subscribe to receive email information updates whenever the EOC is activated. Subscribers receive real time notices whenever any new information is released from the Emergency Operation Centre including detailed maps showing areas under evacuation alerts and orders.

Smith adds, “Our Emergency Support Services volunteers and program has shown it’s one of the best in helping people during emergencies, whether it’s one family displaced by a house fire, or thousands of families out of their homes because of a larger scale emergency. But your family has to be prepared to be self-sustaining and help yourself in case you are on your own. And don’t forget any additional considerations for family members with special needs and challenges like visual, mobility or hearing issues.”

And those people with pets or farm animals need to make additional plans for their special circumstances. Smith says, “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. You should include a pet emergency supply kit with your family one.” Check out the Canadian Disaster Animal Response Team (CDART) website for helpful tips.

The website also has links to the wealth of emergency planning information available through the provincial Emergency Management BC and federal programs.  A selection of emergency preparedness pamphlets is available at the Regional District of Central Okanagan office (1450 KLO Road in Kelowna) and the main Kelowna Fire Hall (2255 Enterprise Way).

When the Central Okanagan Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) is activated, the latest information will be available online at the EOC Public Information website and via Facebook ( and Twitter (

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