By Laura Keil, Publisher/Editor

Firefighters have a term for fires that quickly erupt in size: a blow-up.

These sudden and unexpected flare-ups in size and intensity are often sufficient to foil fire suppression efforts. Blow-ups can result from small or large fires.

A few weeks back I interviewed campers who got stuck along the Berg Lake trail July 1st due to the flash flood caused by a huge downpour.

You can bet that these campers did not expect to cross a bridge in the evening and wake up the next morning to that same bridge cleft from its footings and shot through with boulders.

As animals, I think it is natural to assume our environment is stable unless we are given evidence otherwise. In fact, it’s certainly important for our mental health that we assume our environment is stable most of the time. Having anxiety about our environment shifting tectonically is not a peaceful way to live.

But it would be wise to consider how we can prepare our properties, possessions and families in the case there is an emergency, not to cause worry, per se, but to reduce the chance of fire spreading and be ready to leave sooner.

Our wildfire preparedness feature this week tries to cover some of the basics of being “fire smart.” In many ways, there is no way to “prepare” for a wildfire. But there are ways to not be stupid. My family is often complacent at the beginning of fire season—letting the gas tank get low, not collecting our important papers/documents in one spot, not keeping a water jug in the car, forgetting to mow the tall grass along the house etc. etc.

What we all need is some good old fashioned peer-to-peer reminders about pruning, mowing, cleaning out gutters, and (when possible) replacing roofs with metal, and removing flammable structures and foliage within 10m of homes. We should also keep some lists on our fridge during the summer months such as the ones in our feature this week, regarding things to pack and important sources of information.

There is no single-source of information that is the “correct” one in an emergency. However, local governments are responsible for issuing evacuation alerts and orders. So if you live in the regional district, you’ll want to check their communication channels if you suspect something’s up. If you live in a Village, it would be your Village’s channels (see our feature for a list and links to communication methods).

For information on fires, you can check the BC Wildfire Map online anytime, though the information there is limited and if your bandwidth is low, it may not load.

With smoke clogging the air and our nostrils, it can be unnerving not being able to see where the smoke is coming from. The mountainside near our home? Kamloops? California?

Being ready for an alert will free up time to find out what’s going on and to alert friends who may not have heard.
In other words, being ready to leave is not just about you. It could help—or save—someone else.