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How Bowen Islanders can be prepared for wild fire season

What islanders need to know and where to find the information
Two girls and a dog wearing emergency preparedness backpacks
Makayla and Sophia Toews and Dora, the Border Collie are “ready for anything” with their 72 Hour emergency backpacks.

Bowen Island Municipality would like to take the time to remind people of some important factors heading into what is likely to be a long, hot summer. There is a high risk of wildfire right now and continuous drought and an abundance of dry fuels on forest floors are set to make this fire season a challenging one. Currently, there is a burning ban in place until Oct. 15. This includes all forms of burning, including campfires and beach fires. If you see smoke or fire, please immediately dial either 911 or *5555 to report it directly to BC Wildfires. 

Top five things Bowen Islanders can do to prepare for wildfire season:

1) Be prepared:

All households on Bowen should have a personal emergency plan. Make a master list of family and emergency numbers and ensure everyone in your household has a copy. Pick a meeting place, plan for your kids (including kids attending school off-island), know where to get information, prepare your home with an emergency kit, stock supplies and know how to turn off your utilities. For more information on what should be in your emergency plan, see PreparedBC

2) Be aware

The best way to keep informed about emergent situations on Bowen Island is to sign up for the Alertable App (aka BowENS). More information about this fantastic tool can be found on the municipal website under the Emergency Programs tab. 

3) Be informed

Be assured, Bowen Island does have an evacuation plan in place in order to either strategically evacuate (when we have some time) or tactically evacuate (when we don’t have much time) all or part of the island. 

Please take the time to get familiar with the Bowen Island Emergency Guide to learn about evacuation alerts and orders or shelter-in-place orders. For a more detailed account, see the Bowen Island Evacuation Plan 2020. Also, be on the lookout for an educational leaflet on evacuations set to be mailed out to residents soon!

4) Be ready to go

You may need to leave immediately in the event of an emergency. Be ready to go by having a smaller version of your emergency kit in an easy-to-access place in your home. In addition to having one at home, create grab-and-go bags for your workplace and vehicles that contain:

  • Food (ready to eat) and water
  • Phone charger and battery bank
  • Small battery-powered or hand-crank radio
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank flashlight
  • Extra batteries
  • Small first-aid kit and personal medications
  • Personal toiletries and items, such as an extra pair of glasses or contact lenses
  • Copy of your emergency plan, copies of important documents, such as insurance papers
  • Cash in small bills
  • Local map with your family meeting place identified
  • Seasonal clothing and an emergency blanket
  • Pen and notepad
  • Whistle

5) Be involved

Bowen Island has two wonderful emergency response volunteer programs that provide vital support to the emergency program and are ready to respond if need be. 

Neighbourhood Emergency Response Program (NERP): NERP is a municipality-sponsored, grassroots program of neighbours supporting neighbours in emergency situations. The NERP’s purpose is to increase our personal and collective level of preparedness and self-sufficiency in the event of an emergency, such as an earthquake, wildfire, or extended power outage. It is critical that every household is personally prepared and ready to help themselves and assist their neighbours. As a NERP volunteer, you will take an active role in your neighbourhood’s emergency preparation. In the event of an emergency, you will help coordinate your neighbourhood’s response and recovery, ensuring the safety and security of you, your family and your neighbours. In doing this, you will be playing a significant role in the resilience of our island community. 

Emergency Support Services (ESS): ESS provides short-term assistance to British Columbians who are forced to leave their homes because of fire, floods, earthquakes or other emergencies. Assistance may include food, lodging, clothing, emotional support and family reunification services. ESS may also provide specialized services such as first-aid, child minding, pet care and transportation. Typically, a reception centre would be set up as a central base for evacuees in the event of an emergency that forces people from their homes. A list and map of potential Bowen Island reception centres is available on the BIM website. It is critical that you check the municipal website and/ or listen to local radio during an emergency to determine which reception centre(s) have been opened. 

Throughout the province, thousands of ESS volunteers train and prepare so that when an emergency or disaster affects their community, they are ready to help. ESS volunteers also gain valuable personal preparedness skills, which can assist them and their family in times of a disaster. Bowen Island ESS volunteers are also able to volunteer themselves to be deployed to other areas of the province in need of support. Currently, BI ESS has volunteers ready to be virtually deployed to the fire response in Lytton. In years past, the previous EPC as well as ESS volunteers have deployed to various emergency response situations province-wide. The Bowen Island ESS Team has a solid base of dedicated volunteers, however, there is always a need for more individuals to join the ESS team. 

All resources cited above can be accessed through the BIM website. Please contact the BIM Emergency Program Coordinator via phone at 604.947.4255 ext 251 or BIM Emergency Program wishes everyone a warm, wonderful and safe summer! 

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