Plan and prepare for personal safety and the safety of family members for the first 72 hours following a disaster. Be mindful it that, depending on the extent of the crisis, it may take several days before first responders arrive on scene to lend assistance. When a disaster strikes, vital services may also be disrupted. Be prepared to manage without phone, gas, electricity, or water.
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Apartment and Condos
As with neighbourhood preparedness, tenants living in an apartment or condo may be an immediate source of help following a disaster. The Province of BC has developed a Guide for Apartments, Condos and Townhomes for those living in multi-family housing units.
In the event of a major disaster, immediate help will likely come from neighbours since first responders will be busy with the incident. Co-ordinating emergency planning with neighbours is highly recommended whenever possible.
People with Disabilities
All residents should prepare for emergencies by being aware of local risks, creating a household plan, and having an emergency supply kit on hand. However, people with disabilities may need to take additional steps to safeguard their well-being and take into account issues like:
- Restrictions on the ability to communicate.
- A sudden change in surroundings.
- Service animals or guide dogs being hurt or frightened.
- Stress or confusion impacting health.
The Province of British Columbia created a guide to help people with disabilities plan for emergency situations.
Pet owners and their pets may be left to fend for themselves for a few days following a disaster and emergency preparation for pets may be just as important as ensuring the safety and well-being of humans. Make sure animal licences are up to date in so separated pets can quickly return to their owners case of separation.
Emergencies and disasters can occur at any time. Preparing a business to handle a disaster allows for more time to react and potentially reduce down time and provide for employees. The Government of Canada has developed A Guide to Business Continuity Planning to help businesses prepare for emergencies. Many of the items listed in the personal planning section may be used and followed in a business setting.
Other Planning Resources
The Province of BC has developed resources to help cope with a disaster:
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In the event of an emergency or disaster, the City of Prince George has a plan to co-ordinate evacuations when they are required, by either the City's Emergency Planners or the Province of BC.
In an emergency, individuals may be directed to either:
- Evacuate your home or neighbourhood.
- Remain at a location and '"shelter-in-place".
During an emergency or disaster, authorities may determine it is safer for residents to stay inside rather than evacuate.
If ordered to "Shelter-in-Place", residents must:
- Close and lock all windows and exterior doors.
- Close all window coverings.
- Turn off heating, ventilation, and air conditioning.
- Shut fireplace dampers.
- Seal cracks around doors and vents with duct tape.
- Take an emergency supply kit to a small interior room with no windows until advised that the "Shelter-in-Place" order has been rescinded.
Stage 1 – Evacuation Alert
The City will issue an evacuation alert if individuals are at risk during an emergency or disaster. Once the City issues an evacuation alert, affected parties must prepare to leave.
Stage 2 - Evacuation Order
If an incident threatens individuals directly, they may be ordered to evacuate immediately for their safety. All persons are ordered to leave the area immediately. The police will enforce evacuation orders.
Stage 3 – Evacuation Rescind
An evacuation alert or order is rescinded when the threat to individual safety no longer exists.
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Four Pillars of Emergency Management
The Prince George Emergency Program Coordinator and Emergency Planning Committee work with various divisions within the City, as well as with community stakeholders and other levels of government, to ensure the City of Prince George is prepared and able to recover from an emergency or disaster.
The BC Emergency Program Act requires that all municipalities in BC maintain an emergency plan. The City of Prince George Emergency Program follows the four pillars of emergency management:
- Mitigation and Prevention
I. Mitigation and Prevention
Land-use management, planning development, and public education are examples of strategies that we use to mitigate or prevent emergencies and disasters.
Personal, business, and local government planning ensures that we are ready to respond. The City of Prince George reviews and revises the plans developed, networks with community stakeholders, and trains and exercises the plans regularly.
Emergency Services and other City divisions address the impacts to the community daily. When a disaster strikes, a coordinated effort from community services, community stakeholders, and various levels of government is required. The City may set up a Reception Centre to register and provide short-term assistance to individuals displaced from their homes during a disaster.
After a disaster has passed, or sometimes while it is still occurring, recovery efforts begin to maintain or re-establish critical infrastructure. Resiliency centres may also be set up to assist those affected with longer term needs and return community services following an emergency or disaster.
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Risks and Potential Hazards
Hazards vary depending on where you live in Prince George. In 2009, the City of Prince George conducted a hazard, risk, and vulnerability assessment to determine the potential hazards within the City.
The City of Prince George is surrounded by forest and is vulnerable to wildfire risk both within and outside of city limits. The Clean Air Bylaw restricts fires within city limits. Only small recreational fires using clean, dry, split firewood is permitted. Yard and construction site clean-up fires at not allowed. Learn more about how to keep safe by reading the BC FireSmart Manual.
The Fraser and Nechako rivers flow through the City of Prince George, which puts PG at risk of flooding. Properties close to the river bank are particularly vulnerable. During long, cold spells in the winter, ice jams can restrict water flow, resulting in localised flooding. Spring rains and snowmelt run-off can also result in surging water known as "freshet".
Since floodwaters can rise quickly, be sure to have an emergency supply kit prepared beforehand and connect with neighbours. Pre-emptive actions that can be taken at home include:
- Ensuring gutters are cleaned.
- Keeping storm drains clear of leaves, garbage, and other debris.
- Cleaning foundation drains.
- Monitoring roof drains and splash pads.
- Ensuring downspouts are draining away from the house.
- Completing simple landscaping to manage run-off.