Evacuations can be chaotic, nerve wracking and a time of worry and strain. Make yourself aware and be prepared. Fire fighters and other emergency personnel cannot work on the fire or other problems until life and safety issues are under control - that means YOU. Resisting evacuation consumes the rescuers precious time. Once you receive the information of the Evacuation Order, evacuate immediately. Delay can result in roadways being blocked by smoke, other materials or rescue equipment. Listen to emergency broadcasts and follow the directions of emergency personnel.
Whether you need to leave your home due to a quickly approaching fire, or because of rising flood waters, you should be aware of Evacuation Alerts and Orders, what they mean, and how to prepare yourself and your family. Depending on the nature of the emergency, BC has several various legal Acts which authorize evacuations:
Regardless of which legal authority orders an evacuation, warning and implementation should follow the provincial standard of a three-staged process.
Stage 1 - Evacuation Alert
Alerting the population at risk of the impending danger. At this point, the movement of handicapped persons, transient population, including vacationers, and in some cases, school population, and any voluntary evacuees, should become a priority.
Possible methods of warning the population at risk may include door knocking; media broadcasts; mobile public address (RCMP); telephone calls, and electronic media.
The Alert should identify hazard/emergency zone(s) and travel route(s); identify reception center locations; and advise the method of declaring an "All Clear" and procedure for issue of controlled re-entry passes.
Stage 2 - Evacuation Order
Leave the area now! The Evacuation Order should include; the time the Order is in effect; a pass form which can be used in the event that the evacuee has a need for controlled re-entry to the area, with instructions for its use.
All persons in the affected area are to be told that, in the interest of their own safety and considering the risk, they are now ordered to leave the area. The written Evacuation Order is to be in a consistent form. There is no discretion allowed in the Order, which clearly indicates immediate evacuation and relocation. The RCMP will enforce this Evacuation Order.
Stage 3 - Rescind
When the emergency that necessitated the evacuation is under control and the hazard/emergency zone is declared safe (habitable), a retraction of the Evacuation Order should be implemented. This is to be done using the same procedure as for a Warning. This procedure should advise the population at risk that the danger may reoccur itself and that an ALERT may be reinstated and the process recommences from Stage 1.
If you hear from a Media Information Release that an Evacuation is anticipated, be sure to note whether it is an Alert or an Order. How you respond is different for each stage, and important to remember. Following these guidelines helps first responders to help you more quickly and safely.
If an Evacuation Alert has been issued: