How to camp in wildfire season
Summer in B.C. usually means a trip or two to your favourite camping spot, but it also means the start of wildfire season in many areas of the province. Wildfires can start at a moment’s notice, so it is up to us to be prepared.
Did you know that 2021 was the third worst wildfire year on record in B.C.? 1,600 fires burned across the province, impacting many communities and wildlife. Given the increase in frequency and intensity of wildfires, do you know what to do if you are camping and a wildfire sparks up near you? Keep reading to learn how you can be prepared and camp safely this wildfire season.
Before you head out camping this summer, be sure to check out the Fire Danger Rating on the BC Wildfire Services website for the region you will be camping in. B.C. is a large province and conditions can vary dramatically between different regions.
Tip: For up to date information on the go, make sure to download the BC Wildfire Service app! You can set it up with push notifications to let you know if anything comes up or to check the Fire Danger Rating. You can even enter your camping destination into the app to get alerts for that area.
If a wildfire ignites near your campground, you should be ready to leave at a moment’s notice. There are two types of notices you may receive if a wildfire sparks up near you. The first is an Evacuation Alert. If you receive an Evacuation Alert, that means you should ensure your grab-and-go bags are all set to go (more on this later) and be prepared to leave immediately. If case conditions worsen, you may receive an Evacuation Order, which means you need to leave the area immediately. Once you are in a safe location, you will need to register for the Emergency Support Services at https://ess.gov.bc.ca/. Lastly, follow all instructions provided by local officials. Do not go back to your campsite unless the evacuation order has been rescinded.
So, what’s a grab-and-go bag? Grab-and-go bags are a small emergency kit to take with you if you have to evacuate quickly, or if you are unable to return home after a disaster occurs. It is important to have a grab-and-go bag for each member of your family, including any pets.
Need help packing a grab-and-go bag? Check out this article to learn what you should be packing in your grab-and-go bag.
If you happen to be camping when an evacuation order is issued for your home community, only return when your Indigenous or local governments deems it is safe. Returning home after an evacuation order is issued will put you, your family, and your local first responders at serious risk.
Lastly, if you see a forest fire ignite when you are camping, REPORT IT AS SOON AS POSSIBLE! You can report wildfires either through the BC Wildfire Services app, or by calling 1-800-663-5555 or *5555 on a cell phone.