Okanagan Lake warning issued

Emergency Management B.C. asks that residents in the area take precautions to ensure personal safety

Following recent flooding events earlier this month and with the potential for more seasonal flooding in communities surrounding the Okanagan Lake in the coming weeks due to increased snowmelt and forecasted warmer weather, Emergency Management B.C. asks that residents in the area take precautions to ensure personal safety.

Residents should develop a household plan, put together emergency kits, connect with neighbours and learn about the local government emergency response plan for their area.

Guides on how to prepare are available online: www.gov.bc.ca/preparedbc

Residents are asked to stay away from floodwaters and keep away from shorelines. During periods of high flow, the shorelines may be unstable and more prone to sudden collapse.

Walking through flood waters is dangerous. Just over 15 centimetres (six inches) of fast-moving water can knock over an adult, and this water can contain various forms of contamination such as sewage, fuels or pesticides.

If you must walk in flood waters to evacuate, use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.

Homeowners and tenants in low-lying areas around Okangan Lake at risk of potential flooding should elevate or store furniture away from ground floor levels, clear perimeter drains, eavestroughs and gutters.

Be aware of your local government’s emergency plan for flooding, and learn the specific steps you can take to understand and mitigate the risk to your property.

Sandbagging is one of the most effective ways to prevent or reduce flood water damage. Homeowners who are preparing homemade sandbags need to be aware that two people should be part of the sandbagging process. It will take about one hour to fill and place 100 sandbags which will create a 30.5-centimetre by six-metre (one-foot by-20-foot) wall.

Residents should make sure they have enough sand, burlap or plastic bags, shovels and time to properly prepare. The Province provides local governments with sandbags; residents can obtain them from their local government.

Residents are offered the following advice for proper sandbagging:

Fill materials:

* Sand is by far the easiest material for filling and shaping sandbags. Sand becomes heavier when saturated from rain or moisture.

www.gov.bc.ca/preparedbc* In emergencies, other materials such as silt, clay, gravel or a mixture of these may be used to fill bags, but none works as well as sand.

* When vehicle access is cut off to the flood site, and you have no other choice, use the back side of the levee or an adjacent field to find whatever material is available to fill sandbags.

Proper filling procedure:

* Always use gloves, and avoid touching your eyes and mouth.

* Filling sandbags is normally a two- to three-person task.

* One member while crouching with feet apart and arms extended places the bottom of the empty bag on the ground.

* The opening of the bag is folded outward about 2.54 centimetres to 3.81 centimetres (one inch to 1.5 inches) to form a collar and held open to allow the second team member to fill with material – approximately one-half or two-thirds full, and then fold them over.

* Do not hurry, Haste can result in undue spillage and additional work.

* The third team member stockpiles or stacks the open sacks.

Proper placement:

* Remove any debris from the areas where bags are to be placed.

* Place the bags lengthwise and parallel to the direction of flow.

* Fill the low spots first before placing bags the full length of the area to be raised.

* Start at approximately 30.5 centimetres (one foot) landward from the river or levee’s edge.

* Fold the open end of the bag under the filled portion. The folded end of bag should face upstream.

* Place succeeding bags with the bottom of the bag tightly and partially overlapping the previous bag.

* Offset adjacent rows or layers by one-half bag length to avoid continuous joints.

Working around moving water should be avoided as much as possible. Only work for the purpose of saving lives, protecting critical infrastructure or preventing significant property damage should be considered. Any patrols, assessments or required emergency work should only commence during daylight hours.

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