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Prepare for wildfires, floods in Okanagan-Similkameen: Regional district

Lower than usual snowpack could increase the volatility of fire season
The Upper Park Rill Creek wildfire in Twin Lakes in 2023 caused hundreds to flee their home from the aggressive fire. The difficult blaze took weeks to contain under 30 C weather, with at least one structure lost. (Brennan Phillips Western News)

The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen is calling on residents to prepare early for potential natural emergencies this year.

Those emergencies include flooding during spring freshet season, and wildfires once temperatures begin to heat up.

Wildfires could be exacerbated by drought this year, as the snowpack remains below the five-year average.

Despite the snowpack being lower than usual, flood risks remain with the possibility of events like the past atmospheric river hitting during the spring melt.

The RDOS is reminding residents that they are responsible for their own personal and household preparedness ahead of freshet and wildfire season.

Residents are advised to review their insurance policies ahead of a disaster, since once a hazard appears insurance policies can’t be purchased or changed. As part of emergency preparations, you can call your insurance representative to discuss your coverage or contact the Insurance Bureau of Canada at 1-844-227-5422 or visit

The RDOS also reminds people to have their emergency plans ready in advance on how to respond to a disaster or emergency.

That also includes pre-registering with Emergency Support Services (ESS), which can be done by visiting and clicking “self-register-now.”

Ahead of fire season, you should also do your best to make sure your property is FireSmart, which can help reduce the intensity or the speed a wildfire is moving.

Ahead of fire season, people are also asked to remember FireSmart tips that can be a good start to protecting your home:

• Move piles of firewood, raked leaves, and dead material away from buildings.

• Clean roof & gutters of pine needles and other debris.

• Prune tree branches up to two metres (six feet) from the ground.

• Choose fire-resistance plants within 10 metres of your home.

• Mow the lawn and keep grasses trimmed

The RDOS says residents can sign up for Voyent Alert, which distributes evacuation alerts, emergency notifications and information from the RDOS’ Emergency Operations Centre.

Brennan Phillips

About the Author: Brennan Phillips

Brennan was raised in the Okanagan and is thankful every day that he gets to live and work in one of the most beautiful places in Canada.
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