July has been a very rough month for British Columbia in regards to wildfires, with well over 750 fires damaging more than 370,000 hectares.
We have been very fortunate in the South Shuswap to have avoided major fires thus far, but risks remain extremely high as we move into the August fire season.
There is a number of decisive actions that can be taken to help reduce your risks of fire damage and these are well-described in the Fire Smart manual.
Fire Smart is a program designed to educate homeowners about specific things that can be done to reduce the chances of your home being destroyed in a fire.
A key strategy here is to create fire-resistant zones around your home by removing materials that could easily ignite during a wildfire.
For more details, you can access the Fire Smart program at www.bcwildfire.ca/prevention/docs/homeowner-firesmart.pdf.
In addition to preparing your home to be fire resistant, other important strategies to reduce fire risk include staying informed and being prepared.
To track the latest information on wildfires, go to www.bcwildfires.ca.
An interactive map on that website shows locations, sizes, and causes of currently active wildfires. You can also follow BC Wildfires on Facebook and Twitter.
A terrific resource to access is the Shuswap Emergency Program available online at www.csrd.bc.ca/services/emergency-management-program/shuswap-emergency-program, or Twitter (@Shuswapemerg) or Facebook.
This CSRD program provides information on a variety of emergency situations, and links to other websites including: BC Wildfires, Drive BC, Prepared BC, Emergency Info BC Alerts &Bulletins, Emergency Management BC and Fire Smart.
In an emergency scenario it can be very helpful to follow the CSRD on Facebook or Twitter. All local emergency alerts or orders from the CSRD will be posted on these sites.
Please note there is a difference between an emergency alert and an emergency order. An emergency alert means you should be ready to leave on short notice, and an emergency order means that you are at risk and should leave the area immediately.
Prepared BC outlines the items to be included in an evacuation kit. On this site, there is also a Home Preparedness Guide and a Home Emergency Plan. The guide notes the things to do in your home before evacuation, and the Emergency Plan provides a useful document to note information that can be vital for you and your family in an emergency.
Drive BC provides a current summary of road conditions, incidents and events which can be very useful when planning an evacuation route.
I hope that we never have a wildfire emergency situation in the South Shuswap, but it is good to know how to access the information that may be critically important for you and your family.
Please enjoy the rest of your summer and be safe.
-Paul Demenok is the Area C Director for the Columbia Shuswap Regional District