Know the risk. Be prepared.

The Southern Gulf Islands experience damaging winter storms, wildfires, earthquakes, tsunamis, and other hazards. Risks depends on where you live, work and play. Understanding hazards near you and preparing for them can keep you and your loved ones safe.

Before an emergency

Be prepared

Individuals and families should be prepared to take care of themselves for at least 72 hours.

  • Know the risks: Knowing the risks and hazards can help you and your loved ones prepare for the unexpected. For more information, see the hazards in our region.
  • Make an emergency plan: A plan will help you cope with the stress of an emergency or disaster.
  • Build an emergency kit: By taking a few simple steps you can become better prepared to face a range of emergencies. Don’t forget to include your pets when building your kit.

Be informed

Connect with neighbours

Being prepared is not only about having the right supplies. Your ability to recover from unexpected situations also relies on your connections to others.

  • In many cases, community members such as neighbours, co-workers and friends in the affected area are first on-scene.
  • If you or your neighbours could require additional assistance during an emergency, develop a plan together beforehand.
  • If you are not familiar with your neighbours, consider reaching out and making those connections.
  • Consider joining your neighbourhood POD program to increase your resiliency during an emergency

Financial preparedness

In all emergencies or disasters, you can reduce stress by being financially prepared.

  • Speak to an insurance agent about your specific needs.
  • Know your insurance options and policy limits. Make sure your home, vehicle, business and belongings are protected. Talk to your insurance agent to learn about what is not covered in your insurance policy.
  • Have a copy of important financial and insurance information on a protected thumb drive and keep in in your go-kit in case you are evacuated or need to leave unexpectedly
  • If you can, keep emergency cash handy in case banking services are unavailable.
  • If you are evacuated, keep all receipts for additional expenses for your insurance claim.
  • Prepare a detailed list of all your belongings. For more information, see Home Inventory.
  • Know the 7 steps for making a home insurance claim. For more information, see Claims Management.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is ready to answer your questions. Connect with them by email or by telephone at 1.844.227.5422. For more information on insurance preparedness visit IBC.

Protect your pets

  • Create a Grab-and-Gobag for your pet: A pet carrier stocked with essential supplies for a quick grab ensures your pet will have what it needs.
  • Have a phone list of animal shelters, veterinarians and kennel facilities that could house your pets if needed.
  • Create a buddy system with a neighbour in case one of you are unable to return home to pick up your pet.
  • In the case of an evacuation, never leave your pet behind.

During an emergency

Emergencies can cause serious harm to people, property, the economy and the environment. Make sure you know who to call and what to do during an emergency or disaster.

How to protect yourself and your loved ones during an emergency or disaster will depend on the hazard. If you experience life-threatening emergencies, make sure to always call 911.

During large scale emergencies, it is important to try and reduce the number of calls going to First Responder Agencies. Instead, follow the directions of the CRD and use the appropriate channels to gather information instead of overwhelming 911 services.

Shelter-in-place

Authorities may direct you to shelter-in-place. If this happens, you should stay where you are and follow their instructions.

Evacuation alerts and orders

  • An evacuation alert warns the public of threat that could lead to an evacuation order in the near future. If an alert is issued, you should prepare to evacuate on short notice. In general, you should not evacuate until you have been ordered to. Voluntary evacuations can cause confusion and evacuation costs will not be covered.
  • An evacuation order is used when the public must leave an area for their own safety. You will notified directly by the CRD’s PANS system or First Responders if you are being ordered to evacuate.

Stay informed

Directions from authorities can vary based on the emergency. They can also change very quickly.

  • Ensure you are monitoring the alerts you receive through the CRD’s Public Alert Notification App so you can always be up-to-date with the latest information.
  • If you’re able to, check your community’s website or social media channels to see what updates they are posting, including the Southern Gulf Islands Emergency Program Facebook Page.

Connect with neighbours

If something happens in your neighbourhood, ask yourself these questions:

  • Who might need extra assistance?
  • Who can you ask to check on your pets?
  • Who is first aid-certified?
  • Does anyone have any equipment that could be helpful? I.e. a generator?

If there is time

  • In some cases, authorities will give instructions on how to protect your home. They could ask you to shut off water, electricity or gas. Do not shut off your utilities unless directed to do so.
  • Let your out-of-town contact know what is happening in case you are separated from loved ones.
  • Add anything that you may not have already packed to your grab-and-go kits (identification, child’s favourite stuffed animals, animal leashes)

Emergency Support Services

There are a number of services that the CRD and partners can help provide during an emergency.

A few of the many services offered include:

  • Emergency food, clothing and shelter, including group lodging
  • Emotional support
  • Linkages to other resources

This information will be sent out by the emergency program either by PANS or the Southern Gulf Islands emergency program facebook page. It is important to stay informed and know where to go to get accurate and timely information.

After an emergency

The lingering effects of unexpected emergencies and disasters are different for everyone. Knowing what to do after an emergency can help reduce stress and aid in a quicker recovery.

Recovery is a process

The process to repair and restore your life after an emergency or disaster is not easy and takes time, flexibility and patience.

Examples of recovery include:

  • Removing waste and debris
  • Contacting your insurance company
  • Replacing lost or destroyed documentation
  • Finding a new home
  • Getting mental health support

Find out where your community will post information on support and recovery after an emergency. It will help if you can bring some of the information you will need in the recovery stage with you during an evacuation – such as identification and photocopies of financial, or insurance paperwork.

Re-entry

If you had to evacuate, you won’t be able return home until authorities declare that it is safe to do so. Use caution when you return.

Do not enter your home or property if:

  • An expert has not deemed it safe to do so
  • Any part of the structure has collapsed or there are cracks
  • The structure is off its foundation
  • The main power switch was not turned off prior to flooding
  • Recovering after a wildfire and Recovering after a flood pages provide steps to consider before you re-enter or clean your home

Connect with neighbours

Having a sense of community and people you can lean on is an important part of recovery.

  • Reach out to your neighbours and friends to find out how you can support each other.
  • Research shows that communities with strong relationships recover faster.

Your mental health

Disasters can affect people in many ways. Sometimes we have emotional responses right away and sometimes they show up days, weeks, months or even years after.

Feelings of stress are normal, but some people can experience more severe distress and may require help.

Monitor yourself and your loved ones for signs of distress, which could include:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Anxiety
  • Depression or unexplained physical issues

If any of these signs appear, make sure to talk about them and seek advice from a professional.

Recovery Assistance

Recovering from a disaster is difficult. There are programs in place to help you and your family begin the process.

  • Visit a Red Cross Support Center or call 1.800.863.6582 (Monday to Friday from 8am to 4pm PST) to make an appointment
  • Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) can provide answers to individuals and businesses with insurance questions and concerns by calling 1.844.2.ASK.IBC (1.844.227.5422) Monday to Friday from 7am to 4am PST
  • Call the Ministry of Children and Family Development at 1.877.387.7027 to access services for children, families and caregivers, including child and youth mental-health services

Get involved

Become an ESS Volunteer

Emergency Social Services (ESS) is an emergency response program that provides services that are required to preserve the well-being of people affected by an emergency or disaster.

The program provides short-term assistance to British Columbians who are forced to leave their homes because of a fire, flood, earthquake or other emergency. This assistance includes the provision of food, clothing, lodging, emotional support and family reunification.

In British Columbia, municipalities are responsible for planning and operating emergency responses, including Emergency Social Services, within their jurisdictional areas with assistance funded by the province. Southern Gulf Islands has a well established Emergency Social Services program and it is prepared to meet the needs of the community for the first 72 hours following a disaster or emergency.

The success of the ESS program depends on commitment of community volunteers working in partnership with the CRD Emergency Program. Together, plans to respond and provide for the essential needs of individuals, families and response workers are successful.

ESS Volunteer Responsibilities

Emergency Social Services volunteers assist their communities in many ways, including:

  • Informing the public of resources available following a disaster
  • Providing for the essential needs of people affected by a disaster
  • Creating linkages to first responder agencies
  • Maintaining rapport with local businesses and service agencies
  • Identifying potential Reception Centre and Group Lodging sites
  • Exercising emergency response protocol
  • Recruiting and training volunteers

In the event of a major emergency or disaster in the CRD, volunteers are responsible for undertaking their own personal preparedness in order to be able to respond quickly and professionally during emergency situations. The first responsibility of an Emergency Social Services volunteer is their safety and the safety and security of their family. When this has been established, volunteers are responsible for providing emergency human support services.

Volunteers in the Southern Gulf Islands ESS program are responsible for obtaining training in Emergency Social Services. Training is available through the Justice Institute and support organizations in various emergency management topics including Reception Centre Operations, Registration & Referrals, Family Reunification, and Disaster Child Care, and more. There are no specific skills required to become a volunteer. However, skills in areas such as volunteer management, interviewing and second languages are considered an asset.

How to Become a Volunteer

The Southern Gulf Islands ESS program is dependent on the willingness of individuals to help plan for the well-being of their community in the event of a disaster.

Volunteers are always needed and welcomed. The Emergency Program is always recruiting volunteers into its Emergency Social Services program. A commitment of approximately 2-4 hours a month is required for training and exercises.

For more information about becoming an ESS volunteer, please contact the Emergency Program Coordinator.

To find out more information about Emergency Social Services in British Columbia, please visit: Emergency Support Service Delivery

Municipal Emergency Services

Municipalities are responsible for provision of emergency services. Please choose a municipality link below for more information on emergency services programs in your area.

Central Saanich | Colwood | Esquimalt | Highlands | Langford | Metchosin | North Saanich | Oak Bay| Saanich | Sidney | Sooke | Victoria | View Royal

In case of an emergency dial 911

Emergency Program Coordinator - Southern Gulf Islands

Brigitte Prochaska
Tel: 1.866.308.6160
Email