Be prepared

MLA Donna Barnett urges everyone to be careful near waterways, as floodwaters can be unpredictable

We’ve had some colder weather lately, and it’s creating high snowpacks with associated high risks of flooding across the province.

In fact, snowpacks in the Upper Fraser Basin, which includes the Cariboo-Chilcotin, are at record levels.

Since flooding often occurs when high snowpacks are combined with warmer temperatures and/or heavy rainfall, we should all be aware of how to prepare for and deal with a flood.

I urge everyone to be extra careful near any waterways, as floodwaters can be unpredictable and carry debris in the fast-moving waters. Please keep an especially close eye on your children and pets near the water’s edge, and be aware of changing conditions.

Small creeks and rivers tend to have narrow channels that fill up quickly, and eroded riverbanks often result in unstable ground.

Flooding also poses the risk of basement floods, which can be costly, messy, and a huge inconvenience. More importantly, they also pose significant health and safety concerns.

Some of these concerns include explosions or electrical shock from compromised electrical and gas systems, contaminated flood water, weakened walls and ceilings from water damage, and dangerous or corrosive cleaning agents, irritants, mould and mildew left behind after flooding.

When you are cleaning up after a flood, make sure to wear protective clothing, such as overalls, gloves, protective eyewear, rubber boots, and a face mask. Open the windows, stay clear of electrical equipment, and if possible, shut off the power.

You may also wish to set up fans and/or dehumidifiers to speed the drying process.

If water is backing up from your building drain, call a plumber. Do not flush the toilet, run the washing machine or dishwasher, or turn on the taps.

Call your local municipal government to report severe flooding, and call your insurance company to report any damage and clarify your insurance coverage. Take pictures of the damage and keep receipts of any work done.

For more information on preparing for a flood and dealing with the cleanup, visit these websites: www.emergencyinfobc.gov.bc.ca or www.pep.bc.ca/hazard_preparedness/flood_tips/Floodproof.pdf.

Be prepared, stay safe, and keep dry.