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‘You don’t always have a lot of time’: FireSmart urging preparedness as wildfires burn across B.C.

Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast have been relatively spared from wildfire activity raging across much of B.C., but fire safety experts are asking you to use this time to get prepared.

According to FireSmart program lead Rachel Woodhurst, some of the most important things to do include having an evacuation plan, prepping your property and watching alerts and conditions.

Woodhurst adds that while they may feel safe, residents are starting to notice the effects of fires more with smoke in the area and as the climate changes.

“It’s really great for people to take this opportunity now to think about what they would do if that changed,” said Woodhurst. “One of the first things we can do any time of year is make an evacuation plan and to know your evacuation routes.

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“It’s a great conversation starter with friends and with family and a way to really connect because there are some of our people who are more vulnerable and our pets, and it’s important we have plans in place to make sure that those are cared for.”

She adds that evacuations often don’t happen in the best settings, and it could be in the middle of the night, while you are at work or in other less ideal situations. This becomes more paramount in remote coastal communities, where there is often only one way in and out.

“It’s especially important when you’re not threatened to be having those conversations about what if there were road closures,” said Woodhurst. “It’s a great opportunity to ask some questions to your local municipality, Nation, or your regional district because they probably have a better understanding of what those pinch points are.”

In addition to creating a solid evacuation plan, Woodhurst stresses that prepping your home to be FireSmart is very important and can be taken care of as part of daily home maintenance.

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“It’s important to really look at that immediate area around a home,” said Woodhurst. “That first 1.5 metres or five feet around a home, that’s often where we store things. We have patio furniture, we store firewood, we often put things under decks, and they are often flammable.

“We really want to look at what is right next to our home: is it flammable and is it going to be something that if embers landed on it’s going to ignite?”

Woodhurst adds that it is something that can be done throughout the year, but should especially be done in the spring.

More information about how to prepare, have a grab and go bag, prep your home and get out safely can be found on the FireSmart website and Prepared BC. 

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