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Being prepared in advance for a disaster can mean the difference between life and death

Having a Grab-and-Go-Bag discussed at Evacuation Zone meeting
Home preparedness discussion by Director of Emergency Support Services and Deputy Fire Chief of Smithers, Matt Herzog. (Deb Meissner photo)

Do you know the difference between an Evacuation Alert and a Evacuation Order? Do you have a plan with your family on where to meet should there be an evacuation during the day, with you at work and the kids at school?

These are some of the questions that are being addressed at the “Know your Zone,” Evacuation planning and emergency preparedness town hall meetings taking place in the communities of Smithers and Telkwa.

The Town of Smithers has developed fifteen new evacuation zones to help in the event of evacuations in the community. The Village of Telkwa has developed five new evacuation zones, and the Regional District Bulkley Nechako (RDBN) Area “A” has nineteen Emergency Preparedness Zones.

These zones will aid in the Neighbourhood Emergency Preparedness Planning Program the town of Smithers and Village of Telkwa are conducting.

READ MORE: Smithers, Telkwa and RDBN begin evacuation information campaign

The public meetings are answering questions about muster points; kits each person in the family should prepare in advance (called grab-and-go-bags); where to get emergency information from local and social media; important papers and medical information you should have on hand; and what Emergency Support Services (ESS) can provide in the way of lodging, food, clothing, etc.

The town halls also include information on the different types of emergencies the communities should be prepared for, such as rail disasters, flooding events, wildfires and emergency events along Highway 16. There are numerous events that could cause some or all of the evacuation zones to be enacted.

Knowing what to do, where to get the proper information from and how to prepare in advance for any of these events ensure a more successful outcome if and when there is an emergency.

The Town of Smithers, Village of Telkwa, the RDBN and the coordinators and volunteers have spent many hours putting together the information each household and individual in the community needs before an emergency event happens to ensure resilience in any disaster.

“The thought “it will never happen here,” is the wrong idea,” Emergency Support Services Director and Deputy Fire Chief in Smithers, Matt Herzog, said at a recent town hall.

“It can happen, fires and floods do happen here, and how we respond as individuals and communities can make a huge difference in the outcome of such events.

“Having prepared ahead as a community, anticipating situations, knowing the hazards in our area, knowing how to respond and how to be alerted are what these town halls are all about.”

“In all reality, if a major event should occur, there is a limited number of first responders and volunteer organizations that would be able to respond for the whole community and outlying areas. Being informed and prepared is key.

For more information, contact the Town of Smithers, Village of Telkwa, the RDBN or email Matt Herzog at

Town Hall Dates for Smithers (from 7 - 8:30 p.m.)

Zones 1 thru 6 - already held

Zones 7 thru 9 - September 20

Zones 10 thru 12 September 27

Zones 13 thru 15 October 4

All Smithers Zone meetings take place at the Christian Reformed Church, 4035 Walnut Drive.

Town Hall Dates for Telkwa: (From 7 - 8:30 p.m.)

Zones 1 thru 3 September 19

Zone 4 and 5 September 26

All Telkwa Zone meetings take place at the Telkwa Community Hall, 1390 Birch Street.

For RDBN dates contact

FIreSmart prevention measures discussed at Evacuation Zone Town Hall on Sept 13., in Smithers. (Deb Meissner photo)