Hot and dangerous: What you need to know about BC wildfires this summer

As we write this, there are 216 wildfires burning across BC. And with this weeks’ heatwave, fire experts and meteorologists say there could be more to come.

Fortunately, there’s a lot we can do before, during and after fires to be there for each other and lend a hand.

Be prepared and be aware

Unless you live in BC’s famed ‘fog zone’, there are very few places in our province where wildfires can’t strike. Even our urban environments, with their big parks and canopied streets are at risk.

Wherever you are, you should have an emergency kit ready to go. This kit includes essential items to help you survive if you’re away from home (or from electricity/running water) for a few days, and should include, at minimum, non-perishable food, first aid supplies and drinkable water. You may also want to include copies of important personal documents, toiletries, changes of clothes, pet supplies and special memorabilia or personal items you can’t live without. PreparedBC has a checklist of items you may want in your emergency kit.

Alerts & Orders: Know when to go

There are two levels of evacuations in BC: alerts and orders.An alert is a warning that a region or community may need to evacuate in the next little while. An order is just that - an order to evacuate immediately.

If you’re given an evacuation alert, you should prep your emergency kits and go-bags and make a plan for what you’ll do if you receive an evacuation order.

If you receive an evacuation order - please leave immediately. People on BC’s emergency and firefighting teams have had several close calls already this summer when they had to rescue people who ignored evacuation orders. Help them and yourself and leave as soon as you can.

Last thing (and this should go without saying): If you are planning to travel this summer and one of the places you want to visit is under an evacuation alert or order: please do not go. These communities are under extreme pressure and stress. They do not need extra visitors at this time. Check Wildfire BC for the current status before you go.

Helping from Afar

Though it’s not helpful for people to head to areas under evacuation orders or alerts, there are things we can do for our fellow British Columbians from at home.

Make a donation:The Red Cross, along with the Government of British Columbia, is collecting cash donations for people affected by the Lytton wildfire and for those evacuated from their homes for at least 10 days.

Share useful, accurate information: For the most up-to-date information on wildfires, evacuations, smoke and road conditions, please follow and share from these social media accounts:

BC Wildfire Service

Emergency Info BC

Drive BC

You can also subscribe to smoky skies bulletins on your mobile or via email: https://aqss.nrs.gov.bc.ca/subscription.html