The BC government is urging British Columbians to prepare and be diligent, as Environment Canada warns of strong winds and substantial rains for parts of coastal B.C. and the River Forecast Centre warns of high stream flow and potential flooding in many north and central coast communities.
Here are a number of tips and actions people living in these regions can take to prepare for a potentially stormy weekend ahead:
- Strong winds can down trees and power lines, have an emergency kit that includes flashlights with extra batteries – avoid candles because they pose a fire hazard. Have non-perishable, ready-to-eat food that does not require electricity to prepare. Know your neighbours that may require extra care and check in on them.
- Use surge protectors to protect sensitive electrical equipment such as computers, DVD players and TVs. And keep batteries charged in cell devices; your tablet or phone actually uses more power turning them off and on, so minimize power consumption instead by dimming the screen, closing apps, putting it into sleep mode and turning off power-eating functions like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and push notifications.
- When your lights go out, check to see whether BC Hydro is already aware of the outage by visiting bchydro.com on a mobile device, calling 1 888 POWERON (1 888 769-3766) from a corded landline, or *49376 (*HYDRO) on your mobile phone. FortisBC electricity customers in the Southern Interior should call 1 866 436-7847 or visit fortisbc.com. If your outage isn’t listed, report it to us when you phone. You can also log in to your BC Hydro account to report an outage online.
- If water levels were high enough to cover your natural gas meter, call FortisBC at 1 800 663-9911 to come check your meters before using any of your equipment. Flood waters may have shifted your home or caused other stresses to the gas piping. Gas appliances that have been flooded should not be used until inspected by a registered gas contractor to ensure your safety.
- Torrential rains can cause overland flooding and creeks and rivers to quickly overflow. Avoid these water channels because they tend to fill up quickly. River banks that look stable can be eroded beneath the surface causing unstable ground that could collapse. Keep children and pets away from stream banks and watch for changing conditions, particularly if you live in low-lying areas or near waterways.
- Protect your home by clearing out your gutters, maintaining perimeter drains, making sure downspouts are far enough away from your residence, and checking nearby storm water drains on your street are free of leaves and blockage.
- Drive carefully and never attempt to drive through floodwater; the depth of water is not always obvious. The road bed may be washed out under the water and sink holes could exist but be unseen. Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars causing loss of control and possible stalling, while a foot of water will float many vehicles. If a car stalls in floodwater, get out quickly and move to higher ground.
Before you leave your home:
- If you have to evacuate, follow the directions provided by public safety officials.
- Move animals and belongings to higher ground, as well as important papers.
- Ensure that pesticides, chemicals and other contaminants are elevated so that they don’t get flushed away or dissolve in the floodwaters.
- When you leave your home shut off all electrical power by turning off the main service and shut off your gas valve at the meter.