The Cariboo Regional District is urging residents to get emergency plans in place ahead of potential wildfires, floods and landslides this summer.
The advice comes amid a heavy snowpack across the region and predictions of a late spring by the Weather Network.
“The first BC Wildfire Service wildfire seasonal outlook for the spring season will be released in early April,” said BC Wildfire Service information officer Aydan Coray
“Every summer there’s going to be a fire season. The question is how severe,” said Weather Network meteorologist Doug Gillham. “All you can say with the spring forecast is we don’t expect an early start to the fire season just because with a cooler and wetter spring, that’s not conducive to an early start.”
Gillham went on to qualify this, saying that current conditions do not really tell them anything about the heart of the season. If things turn dry in July it doesn’t really matter what happened in winter.
The Cariboo Regional District (CRD) holds a similar view, saying it is too soon to predict how the wildfire situation will play out this year.
Despite this, the CRD is encouraging residents to develop their own personal emergency plans to make sure that they are prepared in terms of having property insurance, medical or care needs, pet support and returning home after an evacuation.
“There are several free resources on the Prepared BC website including guides on how to build a 72-hour shelter-in-place kit, grab-and-go bags, and other items individuals need to account for in their personal emergency plan,” said Gerald Pinchbeck, CRD manager of communications.
As part of being prepared the BC Wildfire Service encourages people to participate in proven FireSmart activities to help protect their homes and neighbourhoods from wildfires. The FireSmart Begins at Home Manual and more information about the FireSmart program are available online at www.firesmartbc.ca .
Added to the threat of wildfires, the heavy snowfall in February resulted in the Chilcotin region being at 139 per cent of normal. This increases the chances for snowmelt related spring flooding.
Residents are also encouraged to sign up for the regional district notification system on the CRD website at www.cariboord.ca. Alerts can be set up to go to cell phones, email, or landlines and contain specifics of the alert or orders in place, timelines for when people need to be out and what to take with them.
Each alert/order comes with contact information where individuals can self-identify if they have any kind of mobility or special needs issue that would impact their ability to safely evacuate.
This information will help the CRD emergency program coordinate assistance but Pinchbeck said they strongly urge people to have a plan in place and contacts they can reach out to if they know they are going to have problems getting out on their own.
The province introduced its own notification system last spring in the form of intrusive alerts broadcast through major television, radio broadcasters and cell phones. According to the Ministry of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness, the system is designed to complement notification systems already in place at the local level.
In February, the ministry announced the creation of ClimateReadyBC “a one-stop online hub, to help communities and people mitigate and prepare for disaster and climate risks, including wildfire, floods, extreme weather, tsunamis and earthquakes.”
The hub includes hazard and mapping tools, risk data and resources such as funding programs available to communities to mitigate and prepare for disaster risks said the ministry in an email statement.
In addition, changes made to Emergency Support Services (ESS) in 2022 allow people to pre-register prior to being in an emergency situation as well as introducing Interac e-transfer ESS. For more information visit https://ess.gov.bc.ca/ .
Anyone who wants to stay informed can follow the Cariboo Regional District Emergency Operations Centre Facebook page or follow @CaribooRD on Twitter.