How to prepare for and cope with flooding and extreme weather

Whether you are experiencing this week’s flooding, landslides and extreme weather in British Columbia first-hand or are watching it unfold through social media and television screens, there’s no denying the sheer devastation it has caused.

The Canadian Red Cross is currently on the ground helping local authorities where support has been requested and stands ready to assist further. Canadians can best help by donating to the British Columbia Floods and Extreme Weather Appeal.

Are you prepared?

Now is a good time to consider whether you’re personally prepared because you never really know when an emergency will happen. You could be on the road. You could be at home. You could be at work. Do you have a plan? How much drinking water and supplies do you have in your vehicle or in your emergency preparedness kit at home?
Flooded river beside a highway that has been swept away by flood waters
Photo credit: B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure

These are all important questions to ask and discuss with members of your household, considering the specific needs of everyone in your home, including young children, older adults and people living with disabilities, pets, and livestock.

It’s a lot and it can feel overwhelming. Taking small steps towards being prepared will make a big difference in a disaster.

The first step is to really understand the risks you may be facing in your own community and in the locations where you travel regularly for work or pleasure.

Having a plan in place is important, too. How will you communicate with your loved ones? Where will you meet? What are the routes out of your community should you need to evacuate?

Your emergency preparedness kit should contain the essentials you and the other members of your household will need for at least three days. You should also keep a well-stocked emergency kit for your vehicle, particularly in the winter when extreme weather can significantly impact roads. The Red Cross also recommends including warm clothing, food, water, medication, identification and other key items.

What to do if you’ve been impacted by recent floods

We know this is a challenging time for many. If your home has been impacted by flooding, we urge you to follow the advice of local authorities and only enter your home when it has been deemed safe to do so. During the clean up, wear protective equipment and maintain good hygiene as flood water may be contaminated.
Flood waters with a broken bridge above
Photo credit: B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure

We encourage people who have been impacted by flooding and extreme weather to register with the Red Cross by calling 1-800-863-6582, between 8 am and 8 pm PST. Registration is important even if you have already registered with Emergency Support Services or are staying with family and friends. It ensures people are accounted for and can be reached with information about Red Cross services and assistance.

We have assembled these useful resources to help you navigate flood recovery safely when you’re ready, including a step-by-step guide, checklists, information to help you understand your insurance policy, and other practical tips.

Emergencies can also impact your mental health and wellbeing. Experiencing a disaster can trigger physical and psychological responses which can be expected. People may react in different ways to this abnormal event. The Red Cross recommends these tips and resources for coping with crisis to help you and your loved ones through difficult times like these.

Canadians wishing to support the 2021 British Columbia Flooding and Extreme Weather Appeal can donate here and find out how the Canadian Red Cross is helping people who have been impacted.

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