Emergency Preparedness

Natural disasters—such as floods and wildfires—or technological or environmental accidents like chemical spills or transportation incidents can strike your community at any time. If you're unprepared for a disaster, it can shatter your life. Your best defense is to be prepared.

This page will help you learn about how to prepare for disasters that might strike here in the Kootenays. Click on one of the topics below to learn more about:

Here's what you will find on this page:

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 "Grab and Go" 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.

Sign up for the RDCK Emergency Notification System

In potentially life-threatening circumstances, the RDCK—with the support of Emergency Management BC—may issue an Evacuation Alert or an Evacuation Order to residents living in a hazard area. Any Evacuation Alerts or Orders will be communicated through the RDCK Emergency Notification System, as well as via our website and Facebook page, and through local media. In the event of a flood or other emergency, stay tuned in to your local radio station. Sign up today to receive free emergency notifications by phone or email.


British Columbia's one-stop-shop for disaster readiness—has created tips, tools and resources to make emergency readiness easy. Visit their website to learn how to prepare your home, family, business or neighbourhood for potential disasters. 

The following resources created by PreparedBC provide detailed information and personal plans to help prepare for flood, fire, or any emergency situation.

Public Safety Canada

Public Safety Canada works in collaboration with other federal departments and provincial and territorial governments, academia, national associations and non-governmental organizations to strengthen national emergency preparedness. Visit their Emergency Preparedness web page to learn more about how the federal government is helping to keep communities safe and resilient.

RDCK Emergency Management Program

Protecting public safety is the priority of government. When emergencies occur, several agencies must work together to assist people with evacuation and access to shelter, clean water and food. 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 centres (EOC) during emergencies. Learn more about our Emergency Management Program in the RDCK.

About evacuations

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 "Grab and Go" Emergency Kit. The most important items are:

  • Emergency supplies including water and food
  • First aid kit
  • Important documents, cash and family identification

Evacuation Alert

What is the purpose of an evacuation alert?

  • An evaucation alert is a warning about a potential imminent threat to life and property. It is a precautionary measure. It is meant to give affected residents within an impacted area time to prepare in case they are told to evacuate.
  • If you live outside of the evacuation alert zone but are concerned about the fire situation, you may wish to prepare for possible evacuation or self evacuate. 

How do I prepare for an evacuation?

  • Check out the helpful information at the Emergency Info BC government site or Ready for Wildfire site.  In emergency situations, residents in high risk areas should listen to the local media and follow the instructions of local emergency and transportation officials. Prepare ahead by organizing an emergency supply kit with necessary prescription medications, personal toiletries, a change of clothing, insurance papers and other important documents and valuables.

How is the area in the evacuation alert determined?

  • The South East Fire Centre makes a recommendation to the RDCK based on the fire's current status. The boundaries of the zone can change as conditions change. Also, residents outside of the evacuation alert zone may use their own discretion to prepare for an evacuation order or to self evacuate.

What if I'm in the evacuation alert zone as identified on maps but I didn't receive a notice from emergency personnel?

  • Please contact us directly so that we can verify that you are in the alert zone.  Phone 1-800-268-7325 or email info@rdck.bc.ca

Evacuation Order

What is an Evacuation Order?

  • This in an order issued by the RDCK to residents within the affected area that are to leave the area immediately.
  • If you are evacuated, local officials will provide you with information about the location of a Reception Centre. Everyone must register at the Reception Centre. This ensures that we know you are safe. We can then communicate this infomation to concerned family and friends.
  • Short term assistance for immediate needs of food, shelter, clothing and emotional support may be available at the Reception Centre. Emergency Social Services volunteers provide assistance to people for the first three days after a disaster. Assistance includes assessment and referral to services you may need, short term help for food, clothing and shelter, emotional support and family reunification.

Can I decide for myself if I have to evacuate after doing my own assessment of the situation?

  • Being aware of what is happening around you is of utmost importance in ensuring you and your family are safe.
  • Not all emergencies happen in a way that gives enough time for the authorities to communicate what you need to do, and what you need to be aware of. Maintaining situational awareness means that you are looking out for yourself and paying attention to your environment to notice changes that could indicate a pending event. You could be the person that alerts the authorities!
  • It is also good to maintain this situational awareness when there is a known emergency occurring and your area is on an Evacuation Alert. This allows you to make your own decision if you want to leave before an Order is declared--everybody’s threshold for risk is different.
  • If you receive an Evacuation Order, you must heed it. When moving from an Evacuation Alert to an Evacuation Order, authorities base their decisions on information that may not be immediately available to the public, which means your situational awareness not be as good as you think.
  • When people choose not to evacuate during an Order, they not only affect the ability of the authorities to respond to the actual emergency, but they also put the safety—and potentially the lives—of the responders at risk if they require rescuing.
  • So make sure you maintain situational awareness, but please cooperate with authorities when it comes to Evacuation Orders. It might mean your life, or someone else’s.

May I return briefly to my home during an Evacuation Order?

  • ONLY if it's safe to do so and if you have the permission of the local government and emergency personnel. Security will be in place.

Where will I stay if I'm evacuated?

  • It is recommended that you find an alternate place to stay with local accomodations, family or friends.  The Reception Centre will be able to provide you with detailed information at the time of the evacuation.

Evacuations and your animals

If I'm evacuated, will my pets be taken care of?

  • If you are issued an Evacuation Alert, prepare by having cages for your pets, as well as food and food/water bowls. Also make sure that your pets are wearing identification. Emergency Support Services will have limited space for evacuated pets. If possible, please arrange to have your pets stay with friends or family. 
  • For more information on Livestock Relocation, pleaes visit: Emergency Management for Agriculture

Power outages

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 (see the 72 HR GRAB & GO emergency kit). This involves 3 basic steps:

  1. Finding out on what to do before, during, and after a power outage.
  2. Making a family emergency plan, so that everyone knows what to do, and where to go if you need to leave your home.
  3. Getting an emergency kit, so that you and your family can be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours during a power outage.

Visit the Outages & safety page of the BC Hydro website for more information and tips.

Air quality

Highway incidents and events

  • Visit DriveBC to find out about possible road closures.

BC Transit

Weather hazards

  • Check the Environment Canada weather forecast before going out (e.g. pay attention to wind chill or heat warnings). Warnings are based on local climate, and are shared via the local media.
  • Environment Canada provides a number of weather tools and resources so you can “Get your weather
  • Weather forecasts are available through radio and TV broadcasts, Environment Canada's Weatheradio service, and online at www.weather.gc.ca
  • More tips are available on the Severe Weather section of the PreparedBC website

Where to get important information

The content on this page was last updated September 8 2020 at 3:53 PM