The difference between an Evacuation Alert and an Evacuation Order is that an "alert" is notification of potential danger which may arise in your area, and you should prepare to evacuate. Follow evacuation routes that have been indicated by the City avoiding Disaster Response Routes wherever possible.
Be sure to take your important documents and your emergency kit including essential items such as medications, diapers, baby food, clothes, cell phone and purse/wallet. Leave a message on the front door of your home letting others know where you are heading. An evacuation "order" is notification of imminent danger to the lives and property of people in the area. You must leave immediately. Take your emergency kit and critical items such as medication, cell phone, your purse/wallet and keys - only if they are immediately available. Take pets in pet kennels or on a leash. Ignoring such a warning could jeopardize the safety of your family or individuals who may eventually have to come to your rescue.
Download our Evacuation "To Do" List to make sure you're set to go.
Other tips to know in the event of an evacuation order:
- Keep updated by listening to a battery-operated or wind-up radio for the latest information.
- Turn off appliances, including stove, lights and heaters in your home.
- Do not use more cars than you need to; the less traffic during an evacuation the faster it will be to get everyone moved.
- Phone lines may not be working. Even if they are, do not use the phone unless you need emergency sevices. It is important to keep phone lines clear.
- If you are evacuated, register with the designated Emergency Support Services (ESS) reception centre so that you can be contacted and reunited with your family and loved ones.
- Follow the instructions of Emergency Response Workers who will be stationed at intersections along the evacuation routes. Do not take shortcuts.
- Know whether to pick your child up at school or daycare or from the authorities at an evacuation shelter location. Ask your child's school or daycare for a copy of their emergency preparedness plan beforehand.
- If you are using your car, try not to drive through flood waters. Fast water can sweep your car away. However, should you be caught in fast rising waters and your car stalls, leave it behind. Always consider your safety and the safety of others first.
The most important things to remember in an emergency situation are to stay calm, follow instructions from local authorities, and be prepared.
Check out our Fact Sheets in our Resource Library to better prepare yourself and your family in the event of an emergency.
British Columbia is located in a high-risk zone for earthquakes, and scientists have been predicting a large earthquake in this area for many years. Over 1200 smaller earthquakes are recorded in BC every year, many of which are too small to be felt. There are other risks with earthquakes as well - an earthquake near the coast lasting 20 seconds or more could generate a tsunami; although, a tsunami would have insignificant effect on Pitt Meadows other than some low lying flooding.
While there are no guarantees of safety during an earthquake, identifying potential hazards ahead of time and advance planning can save lives and significantly reduce injuries and property damage.
What To Expect During and After an Earthquake
When an earthquake occurs, your first warning may be a swaying sensation if you're in a building, accompanied by a sudden noise or roar. You will notice a vibration, quickly followed by a feeling of rolling, up, down, sideways and rotating - all of which could affect your balance. It may last a few seconds or go on for a few minutes. There's potential for injury from breaking glass, falling and moving objects. Be prepared for aftershocks.
What Can You Do...
Be Prepared. As in any other major emergency, one of the most important things you can do is be prepared. Have an emergency kit ready that will provide the essentials for your family for up to one week in case emergency responders cannot get to you right away.
In the event of an earthquake, remember the following tips:
Drop, Cover and Hold.
- Drop under some heavy furniture or into an alcove;
- Cover your head and torso to prevent being hit by falling objects; and
- Hold on so that you remain covered.
Where to go
- Stay safe and seek refuge: under heavy tables or desks, inside hallways, corners of rooms or archways.
- Avoid dangerous areas such as: near windows or mirrors, under any objects that can fall, the kitchen, where large appliances or contents of cupboards may move violently, doorways, where the shaking may cause the door to slam on you.
- Find out how to shut off utilities and appliances. Download our fact sheet for tips to shutting off valves on appliances, and/or shutting off your gas meter.
- Insurance. Check your insurance for earthquake coverage. It will affect your loss and financial ability to recover after the earthquake.
- Family safety when not at home. Talk to your children or family about what to do if they are at home, school or if the quake separates your family. Become familiar with your child's school earthquake plan.
- Eliminating hazards. Assess your home for structural stability and potential hazards in the event of an earthquake.
- Special needs. Plan for special needs for infants, the elderly or disabled, in case pharmacies and other stores are closed for several days. See a list of tips for the physically challenged in an earthquake.
What to do after an earthquake
- Check your home for structural damage or other hazards. Check roof, chimneys and foundation. If you suspect serious damage, turn off all utilities and leave the building.
- Check yourself and others nearby for injuries. Administer first aid if necessary. The first help after an earthquake usually will come from family and friends.
- Use a flashlight to check utilities and do not shut them off unless damaged. Leaking gas will smell. Don't light matches or turn on light switches unless you are sure there are no gas leaks or flammable liquids.
- Seek sources of uncontaminated water. You should keep a supply of water in your emergency kit, enough for each person in your family for 72 hours. In an emergency, purify water by straining through a paper towel or several layers of clean cloth and boiling vigorously for at least six minutes. There are also water purification tablets available for purchase which can be kept in your emergency kit.
- Do not use barbeques, camp stoves, or unvented heaters indoors.
- Do not flush the toilet if you suspect the sewer line is damaged.
- Do not use the phone except in extreme emergencies, such as reporting a fire or severe injury.
- Keep Disaster Response Routes open for emergency vehicles.
Q & A
1 - What are Disaster Response Routes?
In an emergency, critical seconds can save lives. Disaster response route signs indicate routes that are designated for use by emergency personnel and are not for use by the general public during an emergency or disaster situation such as an earthquake. Familiarize yourself with local routes that display the following signage. These routes are for Emergency Personnel only during an emergency.
Disaster response routes enable emergency services and supplies to move quickly to where the need is greatest. This includes transporting and treating sick and injured people, putting out fires, restoring water and electricity, and other critical services.
2 - Will more shocks be felt after a strong earthquake?
For several hours, or even days, after a strongly felt earthquake, there may be more shocks. But keep in mind these four facts:
- In most cases, these shocks (called aftershocks) will be smaller; therefore, the vibrations will be weaker.
- Aftershocks do not mean that a stronger earthquake is coming.
- Aftershocks are normal; they show that the earth's crust is readjusting after the main earthquake.
- The number of felt aftershocks is quite variable and thus cannot be predicted. There might be several per day, or only several per week.
- It is impossible to predict either the number or the magnitude of aftershocks that might occur. These vary greatly from one region to another, according to many factors.
On July 13, 2014, the temperature in Pitt Meadows hit a new record daily high, reaching 34.0 degrees Celsius. Over the last several years, temperatures in parts of Europe and North America have reached record highs that have resulted in illnesses and sometimes even deaths. Severe heat can cause heat stroke and dehydration, and is also a factor in poor air quality, which can be a problem for those with respiratory difficulties.
Hot, dry weather also increases the risk of fires, due to dry vegetation that can easily ignite. Wildfires start when dry grasses and trees are set aflame by lightning or by human negligence, such as not properly extinguishing campfires. Each year, wildfires cause destruction of property and natural resources, and cost taxpayers millions of dollars in firefighting costs.
What you can do
In severely hot weather, remember the following guidelines:
- Do not leave children or pets in a parked car. Leaving the window cracked will not keep the inside of the car at a safe temperature.
- Drink lots of water, and don't wait until you are thirsty to do so. Make sure children are well-hydrated also.
- Stay in the shade or use sunscreen with a SPF 15 or higher to avoid sunburn.
- Limit work or exercise in the heat; if you can't avoid it, drink lots of fluids - two to four glasses of (non-alcoholic) liquids per hour and limit activity to early morning or late afternoon.
- Check regularly on seniors for signs of heat-related illnesses. Signs include thirst, dizziness, confusions, weakness, faintness and collapsing.
Also remember that hot weather can increase the risk of fires in urban, rural and wilderness areas. Always report any fire, regardless of size, to the fire department immediately by calling 911. For areas around Pitt Lake or outside city boundaries, call the Forest Fire Hotline at 1-800-663-5555 or *5555 on most cellular networks.
Remember to follow these fire safety rules during hot weather:
- Never throw cigarette butts on the ground.
- Keep loose, dry debris and brush away from your home.
- Be careful when running machinery and vehicles in areas of dry grass.
- Keep a fully charged fire extinguisher on hand and keep a water hose handy.
Open fires are banned in Pitt Meadows, so bonfires, pit fires or outdoor fireplaces are not permitted at any time. Read more about the City's Burning Bylaw.
What to expect during a heat wave
During extreme heat waves, the City will offer "cooling centres" for people to drop in and cool off. These centres are air conditioned public buildings such as the Pitt Meadows Family Recreation Centre and the Pitt Meadows Library. Residents are also encouraged to cool off at Harris Road Pool or the free waterpark at Harris Road Park.
Learn more about the Pitt Meadows Hot Weather Reponse Plan
Q & A
What are the dangers of the heat?
The main short-term dangers are dehydration from not drinking enough water, heat exhaustion and heatstroke.
- Dehydration occurs when the body's water content is reduced. It can prevent the body's systems from regulating themselves and can cause a number of complications.
- Heat exhaustion occurs when the body's temperature rises to between 37C and 40C, causing nausea, faintness and heavy sweating.
- Heatstroke sets in if the body's temperature rises above 40C, preventing the cells and body systems from functioning normally. Those affected may develop rapid breathing , headaches, lethargy, confusion and even loss of consciousness. Unless emergency treatment is given, it can result in multiple organ failure and death.
Who is most at risk from the heat?
Seniors, infants and young children, those with existing chronic medical conditions (such as heart or respiratory problems), people with mobility problems, and those who abuse drugs or alcohol are most at risk. People who are normally fit and healthy can also raise their risk by exerting themselves in the heat, for example by taking part in sports or athletics.
How should I protect my children?
Babies and young children are particularly at risk from the dangers of hot weather and the sun. They should be closely monitored because they are more vulnerable than adults. Keep these guidelines in mind:
- keep children, particularly babies, out of direct sunlight as much as possible,
- place them in the shade or preferably in a cool room indoors,
- give them plenty of water to drink to prevent dehydration, and
- protect their delicate skin with clothing and sunscreen.
Parents should also be aware of the need for these precautions when sending their young children to school or daycare.
Severe weather conditions in the winter can be extremely dangerous. Cold temperatures, high winds and snow and ice can cause damage to property and create hazards for residents. Extreme cold can cause frostbite and hypothermia and can also contribute to problems such as pipes bursting, crop damage and power outages. Extreme cold accounts for about 70% of ice and snow related injuries, and fatalities usually occur in motor vehicles, mostly due to accidents caused by icy roads.
What Can You Do?
During severe winter weather, its important to stay informed so you can take appropriate actions such as staying indoors, avoiding road travel, and other precautions. For up to date information on weather and road conditions, as well as emergency preparedness tips, visit the Emergency Management BC website or watch and listen to local radio and television news channels.
In very cold weather, roads can be icy and dangerous. Always avoid travel in severe winter weather unless absolutely necessary. If you must drive in severe winter conditions, follow some basic guidelines for safe winter driving.
To report non-life threatening problems with water, sewer or drainage in Pitt Meadows, please call 604.465.5454 or after hours emergency dispatch at 604.465.2465. Always call 9-1-1 for life or property threatening emergencies.
It is important to have an emergency preparedness kit in your home in the event you are unable to leave your home during severe weather conditions. Find out what items should be included in your emergency preparedness kit. Specific items for cold weather and snow should be included in your car as well, such as:
- Extra gloves, hats and blankets
- Flares and flashlights
- A portable shovel
- Kitty litter or other gravel to sprinkle on slippery surfaces for traction if you are stuck
- Car cell phone charger
What to expect in severe weather conditions
Snow Removal Priorities in Pitt Meadows
In Pitt Meadows, our crews treat major routes as a priority, as keeping these roads open allows traffic to reach other areas and keeps transit operational. During periods of heavy snowfall, major routes are monitored and maintained 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Click here for more information on Snow Removal.
Be a Snow Angel. Please help your neighbours who have mobility difficulties, such as seniors and persons with disabilities, as shovelling snow can be a difficult and dangerous task. Check in with them frequently, as they may be unable to get out of their home due to the snow and may need help getting groceries, medications, or other necessities.
If roads are blocked or are hazardous for crews, the City may temporarily cancel garbage and recycling pickup. For information on when missed garbage pickup zones will be done, check this website for updates. When pickup resumes, it may take a few days for missed zones to be caught up.
Power Outages - Safety Concerns
Power outages increase the risk of fire, as people use alternative fuel sources for heating their homes, such as wood and kerosene and fuel burning lanterns and candles for light. Carbon monoxide poisoning may also result from the burning of alternative fuels in improperly ventilated rooms. If you are using alternative heat sources, be sure to follow some basic safety precautions. Visit BC Hydro's page for safety tips and how to prepare your home for power outages.
Hypothermia is a concern during cold weather as well. Rapid loss of body temperature can occur in cold temperatures combined with wind chill. If frostbite or hypothermia is suspected, know how to begin warming the person slowly and seek immediate medical assistance. Visit the HealthLink BC website for information on frostbite or hypothermia.
Q & A
Who removes snow from sidewalks?
Snow removal from sidewalks is the responsibility of each residential property owner and business owner. The City does not remove or clear snow from the front of residences or businesses.
Is there a fine for not removing snow from walkways and sidewalks?
Residents and commercial businesses that do not clear sidewalks bordering their property in accordance with Boulevard Maintenance Bylaw No. 2377 are subject to a fine.
Who clears snow from public areas such as mailboxes and bus landing areas?
Until City crews are able to keep main routes clear, side streets and residential areas will not be cleared, which includes mailboxes and bus landing areas. We strongly encourage residents to assist with shoveling snow from these areas.
What if I am unable to clear the snow from my sidewalk or driveway because of age or disability?
We ask all residents to help their neighbours who may be elderly or disabled by assisting them with the clearing of their sidewalks and driveways. Being a "Snow Angel" can help prevent injuries or even save a life!
See the Emergency Management BC weekly incident summaries.
Need to report a hazardous spill in BC?
Call the Emergency Management BC Coordination Centre at 1-800-663-3456 (24 hours)
Can you smell gas (smells like rotten eggs) or hear the hiss of escaping gas? Report it immediately to Fortis BC at 1-800-663-9911 (24 hours)
For marine oil spill reporting on the Pacific West Coast (for California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia) call 1-800-OILS-911.
Hazardous materials and gases, if released or misused, can pose a threat to the environment or to the health of residents. Residential homes use natural gas, and many chemicals are used in industry, agriculture, medicine, research and consumer goods. Hazardous materials come in the form of explosives, flammable and combustible substances, poisons, and radioactive materials.
Most hazardous spills are small and are handled by emergency first responders with little or no risk to the public; however, in the event of a larger hazardous material emergency, comprehensive plans are in place to protect residents, including an evacuation plan.
What You Can Do
If you see a spill or leak:
- Report it immediately by calling 911 or the Provincial Emergency Program's Emergency Coordination Centre at 1-800-663-3456
- Do not touch or walk through spilled material
- Stop the leak if you can without risk
- Do not direct water at a spill or source of a leak
- Ventilate the area
If you smell gas or hear the flow of escaping gas, follow these steps immediately:
- Don't smoke, light matches, operate electrical switches, use either cell phones, telephones or create any other sources of ignition;
- Leave the building immediately, leaving the door open and any windows that may already be open;
- Turn the gas off at the meter; and
- Get to a nearby phone (not within the building) and call the Fortis BC 24-hour emergency line at 1-800-663-9911 or 9-1-1
If you are reporting a spill, you should be prepared to provide the dispatcher the following information, if possible:
- your name and contact phone number;
- name and telephone number of the person who caused the spill;
- location and time of the spill;
- type and quantity of the substance spilled;
- cause and effect of the spill;
- details of action taken or proposed; description of the spill location and surrounding area;
- names of agencies on scene; and
- names of other persons or agencies advised concerning the spill.
If someone is exposed to a hazardous material, do not try to care for them without instructions from trained personnel who are familiar with the substance involved. If you don't know what the material is, wait until the substance has been identified and authorities indicate it is safe to go near victims. Once trained professionals have declared it safe to enter, you should call the BC Poison Control 24 hour hotline at 1.800.567.8911.
Q & A
What will happen if there is a hazardous material emergency?
- Listen to local radio or television stations for detailed information and instructions. Follow the instructions carefully. You should stay away from the area to minimize the risk of contamination. Remember that some toxic chemicals are odorless.
- Know what to do in the event of an evacuation. If you are evacuating and you have time, minimize contamination in the house by closing all windows, shutting all vents and turning off attic fans.
- Remember to help your neighbours who may require special assistance - infants, elderly people and people with disabilities.
- Stay upstream, uphill and upwind. In general, try to go at least one-half mile (usually 8-10 city blocks) from the danger area. Move away from the accident scene and help keep others away.
How can I tell if my family or I have been exposed to a hazardous material?
Many hazardous materials do not have a taste or an odor. Some materials can be detected because they cause physical reactions such as watering eyes or nausea. Some hazardous materials exist beneath the surface of the ground and can be recognized by an oil or foam-like appearance.
Does CP Rail transport hazardous materials?
Roughly six percent of goods moved by Canadian Pacific are classified as dangerous goods by federal government regulations. Many everyday products contain hazardous materials, and these must be transported some way to and from manufacturers. CP moves these products in line with strict federal rules and industry guidelines, and works with municipalities and first responders to prepare emergency response plans for railway incidents.
Is natural gas safe?
Yes, natural gas is a safe and reliable energy source; rigorous adherence to safety standards and a safety-first mindset ensure it remains that way. Fortis BC has an excellent safety record as a direct result of their high standards, rigorous commitment to safety and security and the diligence of their employees in carrying out their commitment to ensuring public safety.
For more information, check out our online resource library for downloadable fact sheets (like the one below) to keep you and your loved ones safe.
What is a pandemic?
An influenza pandemic may occur when a new virulent influenza ("flu") virus emerges that can easily infect humans, and against which people have little or no immunity. It would have far more serious health effects than the typical flu seen each season since people would have little or no natural resistance to the new virus.
What can you do to prepare?
Influenza is a significant respiratory disease in humans, and for this reason you are encouraged to get your influenza vaccine every year to help protect yourself and others. In addition to a vaccine, there are simple health protection measures that you can use to protect yourself and other from influenza (annual or pandemic). These include:
- Washing your hands often or using a gel or alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Covering your mouth and nose with tissue when coughing and sneezing or cough/sneeze into your arm
- Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth
- Staying home when you are sick with flu symptoms, which can include fever, headache, aches and pains, extreme fatigue, sneezing, coughing, sore throat, chest congestion.
What will happen during a pandemic?
During a flu pandemic, more people will be sick at the same time than normal, and it will be harder for the health system to keep up. It is estimated that at its peak, 10 per cent of persons or more will be ill enough to be off work during any one week. Because more people will be sick, you might have to wait longer to see your doctor or get into a hospital. And because more people will be off work with the flu, there may be problems in other types of services, like garbage pickup, bus service and being able to purchase food.
There are plans in place to help people during a pandemic. For example, you can expect that:
- The most needed medical services will still be provided;
- Special clinics may be set up specifically to treat people with flu or flu-like illness; and
- People with the worst symptoms and those who are most likely to get very sick or die from the flu will be cared for.
If an influenza pandemic occurs, it may hit individual communities at different times. It could affect a community for a period of several weeks, subside and then reappear again several months later. There could be waves of pandemic influenza in B.C. before the pandemic is finished.
For more information on influenza and vaccinations, visit ImmunizeBC
Background-what is an interface fire?
The wildland/urban interface is the geographical point where the wilderness and urban development meet. In the interface, residential homes or structures and vegetation are close enough that a wildfire may spread to structures or a structural fire may ignite trees and vegetation. Because residential homes are often located near wooded areas in Pitt Meadows, this is a potential risk in our region.
What Can You Do...
Residents can play an important role in preventing and reporting interface fires. It's important to plan for the possibility of fire if you currently live in or plan to build in a rural area. Learn how to protect your home and property.
If you see a forrest fire, please report it by calling 1-800-663-5555 or *5555 on your mobile device.
Pitt Meadows has a ban on burning in all urban areas, and restricted burning seasons in rural areas. To learn more about the City's municipal burning bylaw and regulations and visit pittmeadows.ca/city-hall/bylaws-policies/bylaws.
1 - What are the main causes of wildfires?
Half of all wildfires are usually caused by lightning, and the other half are caused by people. People-caused wildfires are usually due to outdoor campfires left unattended or improperly extinguished as well as discarded cigarettes.
2 - What is a prescribed burn?
A prescribed burn is a fire that is set and controlled in order to achieve certain objectives. Prescribed fire actually offers benefits to forests by reducing overgrowth, creating a better habitat for wildfire, reducing the intensity of naturally occurring wildfires, and reviving some ecosystems. Find out about prescribed fires and their benefits here.
3 - How does the weather influence the fire season?
Hot, dry weather can dry out vegetation and make fires a high risk. Fires that start in damper, cooler weather are easier to get under control.
4 - What is the danger class rating and what does it mean?
Low Low fire danger
Moderate Carry out any forest activities with caution.
High Fire hazard is serious - Extreme caution must be used in any forest activities. Burning permits and industrial activities may be restricted.
Extreme Extremely high fire hazard - General forest activities may be restricted, including burning permits, industrial activities and campfires.
5 - What do the fire intensity rankings mean?
An explanation of the ranking scale from one to six, can be viewed here.