Get Prepared for a Wildfire in British Columbia
Many wildfires in B.C. occur far from cities and towns, but sometimes they threaten homes, businesses and vital infrastructure. Help keep your family safe by knowing what to do before, during and after a wildfire. You should also develop your emergency plan, put together your grab-and go-bags and know the difference between an evacuation alert and order.
Nearly half of all wildfires in B.C. are caused by human carelessness. You can prevent them by following a few simple rules.
- Check for bans and restrictions;
- Camp responsibly;
- Campfires can’t be larger than 0.5 metres by 0.5 metres.
- Keep a shovel or at least eight litres of water nearby to extinguish your fire.
- Create a firebreak by scraping down to the dirt and removing debris at least one-metre around your fire.
- Never leave a campfire unattended.
- Ensure your campfire is completely out and the ashes cool to touch before you leave the area.
- Call 1-800-663-5555 or *5555 on your cell if you spot smoke, flames or an unattended campfire;
Personal and property preparedness
- Ensure your home insurance is up-to-date and includes adequate coverage for fire damage.
- Pull together grab-and-go bags for each member of your household in case you have to leave quickly. Don't wait for an evacuation alert or order to get ready.
- Make sure your emergency plan is up to date. Review it with members of your household.
- Protect your property by completing a risk assessment in BC’s FireSmart Manual.
If a wildfire threatens your home you may receive an evacuation alert or order. It's important to understand the difference.
You are at risk. Leave the area immediately. You are encouraged to register all family members at the nearest reception centre so emergency responders know you are safe.
Be ready to leave on short notice. This is the time to gather your grab-and-go bags and ensure your vehicle has fuel. If you leave before or during this alert, it’s called a voluntary evacuation.
All is currently safe and you can return home. Stay tuned for other possible evacuation alerts or orders.
Emergency Support Services During a Wildfire
- If you’re evacuated from your primary residence due to a disaster, Emergency Support Services (ESS) may be made available for up to 72 hours or longer depending on your needs.
- Learn more about ESS, who it's for and what you can expect if you’re in need.
Your Health During a Wildfire
- Wildfire activity and smoke can result in physical and mental health challenges.
- Learn more about taking good care of yourself and others during wildfire emergencies.
Backcountry Closures During a Wildfire
- Wildfires can impact backcountry recreation, resulting in area closures or restrictions.
- Campers and provincial park visitors should check with BC Parks for fire restrictions and closures. Recreation site and trail users can check with Recreation Sites and Trails BC.
Resources for Farmers During a Wildfire
- Are you involved in farming or ranching in areas that are susceptible to wildfires? Learn more about how to get your farm or ranch prepared and where you can turn for support.
Tracking Wildfire Conditions
- If you are evacuated, only return home when authorities say it's safe to do so. Stay out of damaged buildings as hazards may still exist.
- Wildfire activity may increase the likelihood for natural landslides and flooding. Learn about the warning signs by reviewing the Landslide and Flooding Risks brochure (PDF, 1.23MB) and companion sign (PDF, 3.33MB).