Protecting public safety is the priority of government. Municipalities and Regional Districts have emergency plans in place to protect their citizens. The province assists local government in being prepared before disaster strikes and will activate the provincial emergency management structure to support local emergency operations centers (EOC) during emergencies.
The Regional District is the lead agency for emergency management in the South Okanagan and Similkameen. Recently the member municipalities within the RDOS joined the Regional District in one integrated emergency program. Now, municipal and regional district staff along with volunteers, first responders, first nations and non government agencies plan, train and exercise together to be ready for the next large scale emergency or disaster.
When required by first responders, an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) will be opened by the Regional District to support the emergency or disaster. An EOC is responsible for various duties such as declaring a state of local emergency, coordinating multiple agencies, providing media releases and managing evacuees.
Within the RDOS there are many protective services organizations that you can get involved with, such as Fire Departments, Emergency Social Services, Search and Rescue, Amateur Radio, Canadian Disaster Animal Response and community emergency planning committees.
Seven Steps to Cold Weather Safety
Winter weather has arrived in much of the country. Do you know the signs of hypothermia, and what to do if you get frostbite? Read on to make sure you're ready for cold weather!
1) Listen to the weather forecast
Check the Environment Canada weather forecast before going out.
for a wind chill warning. Warnings are based on local climate and are issued when
Weather forecasts are available through radio and TV broadcasts, Environment Canada's Weatheradio service, and online at www.weatheroffice.gc.ca.
2) Plan ahead
Develop a cold weather safety plan in advance to ensure that safety concerns are addressed when it's very cold, or when the wind chill is significant. For example, schools could hold recess indoors, outside workers could schedule warm-up breaks, and those involved in winter recreation could reduce the amount of time they spend outdoors.
3) Dress warmly
Dress in layers, with a wind resistant outer layer.
When it is cold, wear a hat, mittens or insulated gloves. Keep your face warm with a scarf, neck tube or facemask.
Wear warm and waterproof footwear. When it is very cold, or when the wind chill is significant, cover as much exposed skin as possible. Your body's extremities, such as the ears, nose, fingers and toes lose heat the fastest.
4) Seek shelter
When the wind chill is significant, get out of the wind and limit the time you spend outside.
5) Stay dry
Wet clothing chills the body rapidly.
Remove outer layers of clothing or open your coat if you are sweating.
6) Keep active
Walking or running will help warm you by generating body heat.
7) Be aware
Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia (see below).
Some people are more susceptible to the cold, particularly children, the elderly and those with circulation problems.
Check on elderly relatives and neighbours to ensure they are warm enough and have sufficient supplies, particularly when the weather is cold or snowy. They might not feel comfortable going outside to shop and may require food, medications and other supplies.
The use of alcohol, tobacco and certain medications will increase your susceptibility to cold.
Being cold over a prolonged period of time can cause a drop in body temperature
Shivering, confusion and loss of muscular control (e.g., difficulty walking) can occur.
It can progress to a life-threatening condition where shivering stops or the person loses consciousness. Cardiac arrest may occur.
What to do:
Get medical attention immediately.
Lay the person down and avoid rough handling, particularly if the person is unconscious.
Get the person indoors.
Gently remove wet clothing.
Warm the person gradually and slowly, using available sources of heat.
A more severe condition, where both the skin and the underlying tissue (fat, muscle, bone) are frozen.
Skin appears white and waxy and is hard to the touch.
No sensation – the area is numb or tingling.
What to do:
Frostbite can be serious, and can result in amputation. Get medical help!
Do not rub or massage the area.
Do not warm the area until you can ensure it will stay warm.
Warm the area gradually; use body heat, or warm water (40?C to 42?C). Avoid direct heat which can burn the skin.
These tips have been brought to you by Environment Canada in collaboration with Public Safety Canada.
To learn more about how to prepare for a range of emergencies, visit GetPrepared.ca or follow us on Twitter @Get_Prepared
Safety Tip - Preparing an Emergency Kit for your Car
Slippery or snow-covered roads, reduced visibility and bitter cold: these are all conditions that can make driving difficult and even dangerous during cold weather months. Winter also brings an increased risk of getting stuck in your car, so dress warmly before heading out.
Follow these tips to learn about winter driving risks and prepare an emergency kit for your car.
Exercise extra caution when driving in these winter road conditions:
- Blizzards: The most dangerous of winter storms, combining falling, blowing and drifting snow, winds of at least 40 km/h, visibility less than one kilometre and temperatures below -10?C. They can last from a few hours to several days.
- Heavy snowfall: Refers to snowfalls of at least 10 centimetres in 12 hours, or at least 15 centimetres in 24 hours; accumulation may be lower in temperate climates.
- Freezing rain or drizzle: This can lead to ice storms, with ice covering roads, trees, power lines, etc.
- Cold snap: Refers to temperatures that fall rapidly over a very short period of time, causing very icy conditions.
- Winds: They create the conditions associated with blizzards, and cause blowing and drifting snow, reducing visibility and causing wind chill.
- Black ice: Refers to a thin layer of ice on the road that can be difficult to see or can make the road look black and shiny. The road freezes more quickly in shaded areas, on bridges and on overpasses when it is cold. These areas remain frozen long after the sun has risen.
- Slush: Wet snow can make for slushy roads. Heavy slush can build up in the wheel wells of your vehicle and can affect your ability to steer. Large trucks and buses can blow slush and snow onto your windshield, leading to a sudden loss of visibility.
Follow these tips if you are stuck in the snow:
- Try to stay calm and don’t go out in the cold. Stay in your car: you will avoid getting lost and your car is a safe shelter.
- Don’t tire yourself out. Shovelling in the intense cold can be deadly.
- Let in fresh air by opening a window on the side sheltered from the wind.
- Keep the engine off as much as possible. Be aware of carbon monoxide poisoning and make sure the exhaust pipe is not obstructed by snow.
- If possible, use a candle placed inside a deep can instead of the car heater to warm up.
- Turn on warning lights or set up road flares to make your car visible.
- Turn on the ceiling light; leaving your headlights or hazard lights on for too long will drain the battery.
- Move your hands, feet and arms to maintain circulation. Stay awake.
- Keep an eye out for other cars and emergency responders. Try to keep clothing dry since wet clothing can lead to a dangerous loss of body heat.
Prepare an emergency car kit
Always have winter safety and emergency equipment in your car. A basic car kit should contain the following:
Food that won’t spoil, such as energy bars
- Water—plastic bottles that won’t break if the water freezes (replace them every six months)
- Extra clothing and shoes or boots
- First aid kit with seatbelt cutter
- Small shovel, scraper and snowbrush
- Candle in a deep can and matches
- Wind‑up flashlight
- Whistle—in case you need to attract attention
- Copy of your emergency plan
Items to keep in your trunk:
- Sand, salt or cat litter (non-clumping)
- Antifreeze and windshield washer fluid
- Tow rope
- Jumper cables
- Fire extinguisher
- Warning light or road flares
Are You Prepared?
Each year, thousands of people face emergency situations that could change their lives forever. Don't be caught off-guard. Know the hazards in your area and take the time now to assemble your family emergency kit. Getting your family prepared for an emergency may seem like a lot of work, but it will be easier if you do a little at a time, as your resources and budget permit. The important thing is to start preparing now. The more you do to prepare, the more confident you will be that you can protect yourself and your family when disaster strikes.
Some of the preparedness plans are available in Punjabi & Chinese.
All Hazards Preparedness Workbook
The diverse climate and land base of our province affords a variety of potential disasters. In an emergency, telephone, gas, electricity and water services may be disrupted for days. Roads could be blocked and stores and gas stations closed. Being aware of the dangers and the best ways in which to lessen their impact is the core of emergency preparedness.
This workbook provides information and useful guidelines to help you protect your family and property. When a disaster strikes, there won't be time to find flashlight batteries or replace missing first aid supplies;
Most power outages will be over almost as soon as they begin, but some can last much longer - up to days or even weeks. Power outages are often caused by freezing rain, sleet storms and/or high winds which damage power lines and equipment. Cold snaps or heat waves can also overload the electric power system
During a power outage, you may be left without heating/air conditioning, lighting, hot water or even running water. If you only have a cordless phone, you will also be left without phone service. If you do not have a battery-powered or crank radio, you may have no way of monitoring news broadcasts. In other words, you could be facing major challenges.
You can greatly lessen the impact of a power outage by taking the time to prepare in advance. You and your family should be prepared to cope on your own during a power outage for at least 72 hours. This involves 3 basic steps:
- Finding out on what to do before, during, and after a power outage.
- Making a family emergency plan, so that everyone knows what to do, and where to go if you need to leave your home.
- Getting an emergency kit, so that you and your family can be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours during a power outage.
In extreme conditions, some people may want to make arrangements to stay with relatives, friends or neighbours. Listen to weather forecasts and instructions from local officials, as reception or warming centres may be set up in your community. Keep an eye out for neighbours who may be at-risk in severe conditions. Always follow the instructions of first responders and local emergency officials.
Ensure a supply of basic essentials in your home for at least 72 hours. If you must leave your home on short notice, remember to take your emergency "grab and go" kit. This should include"
- Emergency supplies including water and food
- First aid kit
- Important documents, cash and family identification
FLOODS - What to do?
Floods are the most frequent natural hazards in Canada, and the most costly in terms of property damage. Floods can occur in any region, in the countryside or in cities. In the past, floods have affected hundreds of thousands of Canadians. They can occur at any time of the year and are most often caused by heavy rainfall, rapid melting of a thick snow pack, ice jams, or more rarely, the failure of a natural or human-made dam.
Before a Flood
Protect your home before, during and after a flood.
During a Flood
Listen to the radio to find out what areas are affected, what roads are safe, where to go and what to do if the local emergency team asks you leave your home.
After a Flood
Re-entering your home - do not return home until authorities have advised that it is safe to do so.
Restore your home to good order as soon as possible to protect your health and prevent further damage. Minimize contact with flood water or anything that may have been in contact with it. Keep children away from contaminated areas during cleanup.
Emergency Support Services
Emergency Support Services (ESS) provides short-term assistance to British Columbians who are forced to leave their homes because of fire, floods, earthquakes or other emergencies. This assistance includes food, lodging, clothing, emotional support and family reunification.
During such emergencies, ESS staff is responsible for the opening of a reception center to facilitate the following:
- Register evacuees with the Red Cross to help reunite families.
- Provide referrals for food, clothing and shelter, as funded by the Provincial Emergency Program.
- Provide personal services such as first aid, emotional support, counseling, basic health care and much more.
- Arrange group lodging if no commercial facilities are available.
Other groups that work with ESS are the Canadian Red Cross, the Salvation Army, SPCA, Canadian Disaster Animal Team, Noah’s Wish and First Nations Emergency Services (FNES).
Search & Rescue
The RCMP with jurisdictional authority is responsible for all Search and Rescue (SAR) activity within their catchment area(s). SAR Teams are the operational resource activated in these situations. They also actively participate within their communities, responding to emergency and disaster situations when requested. SAR Team members must individually provide and maintain the ability and equipment necessary to respond and sustain independent SAR operations under all conditions for a minimum of twenty-four hours.
SAR activities might include:
- Ground Search & Rescue, including wilderness survival, mapping, compass & GPS Tracking
- Communications, VHF, UHF, Sat/Cel, amateur and commercial band.
- High Angle and Embankment Rope Rescue
- Avalanche Awareness and Rescue
- Swift Water Rescue
- Helicopter (Hover Entry/Exit)
- Emergency Medical Assistants (EMA), First Responder and EMA II - Paramedic.
- Search & Rescue Management
- Basic and Advanced Incident Management
- Mountain Rescue,
- Police Evidence Search and support
- BC Coroners Service recovery, and
- Equipment maintenance
From time to time when emergencies and disasters require evacuation of residents from their homes and businesses, SAR teams may be utilized for this important task.
It is critical to keep communication open between all emergency personnel and response agencies during an emergency or disaster. Depending on the circumstances, conditions could be such that traditional telecommunications like cell or telephones are not working. Amateur radio operators (HAM’s) utilize their skills and technical expertise to maintain efficient and effective communication.
Naramata - Dick Harris & Heather Fleck
Keremeos - Cheryl Hendsbee & Shari Miller
Be Adventure Smart
The Okanagan Similkameen area has incredible country and offers a many places to hike, mountain bike or rock climb. Before your next adventure, prepare yourself. For information on how visit - AdventureSmart BC http://www.adventuresmart.ca/