Okanagan residents are urged to be prepared for extreme weather this spring. (Photo by Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash)

Extreme Okanagan weather preparedness in spring

Ensuring family and homes are safe in Vernon

Lucy Wyndham

Special to The Morning Star

The World Economic Forum identified extreme weather events as the number two risks with the biggest global impact in the next decades.

Weather and climate-related disasters were reported as top risks that will cause damage. Vernon is not exempted from natural disasters and extreme weather such as blizzards, heavy rainfall, and flooding can happen. With spring season just around the corner, be prepared for severe weather changes to help secure your family and home. Emergency preparedness is essential for the safety of loved ones, pets, and property.

See related: June snow not uncommon at Okanagan ski hills

This year spring is delayed but the risks are present

The Weather Network’s forecast for spring this year says that it is going to be delayed with cooler temperatures prevailing in British Columbia. The southern part of the province will be near seasonal. Near normal precipitation and lower temperatures may extend the skiing season and may delay the wildfire season. Summer is expected to be hot and dry. But given the unpredictability of the weather, it pays to be prepared for any type of emergency from severe storms to floods. In 2017, heavy rains and snowmelt caused flooding that lasted for months in the Okanagan region. Floods are typical spring problems facing the area. It is also not unusual for avalanches and mudslides to happen. Had it not been to the level of preparedness of the city and regional cooperation, the damage and loss of property/lives would have been worse. From keeping tabs on climate conditions to installing a weather station at home, being prepared for calamities could limit damages due to disasters.

Key elements in extreme weather Preparedness

Vernon’s Fire Rescue Services is responsible for the Emergency Program of the city. However, it is the responsibility of residents to prepare for disasters and emergencies. Self-sufficiency for at least 72 hours is advised. One of the most important elements is to heed the different stages of evacuation. Upon receiving an alert, you must be prepared to locate and move your family members, livestock and pets to safety. Assist disabled persons and gather essential items that you will need such as documents, medications, care items for dependents and keepsakes (photographs and mementoes) if desired.

Planning for emergencies and extreme weather is also important. Be sure to review your plan with the family. The plan must include two meeting places, two escape routes, and contact points. Each adult member must know where the utility mains are located so that they can be shut down if needed.

During heavy weather, you might be ordered to stay at home. Therefore, you must be able to secure members of the family as well as pets and the property. Build a kit that contains water, non-perishable food items, first aid kit, warm clothing and footgear, small radio, flashlight and batteries, basic tools, and candles & matches. Store your basic kit in a big watertight container preferably with wheels for convenience. It is important that you do your maintenance diligently to protect homes. Check roofs, clear your yards of clutter and seal cracks & crevices on doors and windows. Shutters also protect windows and doors.

Disaster preparedness is vital in protecting life, livestock, and property during severe weather conditions. It is also imperative that residents and authorities work together closely to ensure that resources are used in the best possible way to secure everyone’s safety. The absence of concerted efforts is only going to make it harder to carry out rescue, relief or evacuation activities during disasters.


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