Winter is coming and the B.C. government said it is getting ready with new cold-weather response funding and preparedness resources.
B.C. government officials said the resources are meant to help residents endure the cold weather.
“Our changing climate means weather events are becoming more extreme, regardless of the season,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “Winter weather can be especially unpredictable and dangerous in B.C. and the cold and snow are challenging for many people. To help people prepare and stay safe through the winter, the Province has released a new cold-weather preparedness guide, as well as new funding for cold-weather preparedness.”
Provincial officials said part of this includes working with BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres (BCAAFC) and United Way to keep people safe during the winter.
“These initiatives will, in part, ensure there are warming areas and extended hours and services for elders, and extended hours and services in shelters for unhoused people,” said B.C. officials.
“The last decade has seen increasing climate extremes, including devastating floods, fires and cold freezes,” said Leslie Varley, BCAAFC executive director. “With each change of the season, friendship centres gear up to support Indigenous people facing displacement, food and housing insecurity, and the trauma of acute loss. These much-needed funds will improve the cold-weather support we can provide and help ensure our community members are prepared for the coming winter.”
The B.C. government provided $200,000 to each organization for this work.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness will work with communities to ensure they have the support and resources needed to protect people from extreme weather.
“The Province provides reimbursements to local authorities and First Nations for opening emergency warming centres during extreme weather,” said B.C. officials. “Warming centres help people warm up during cold weather and provide information about how to safely stay warm.”
Cranbrook will have its own warming shelters over the winter along with an extreme weather response shelter.
B.C. officials said PreparedBC can show you safety tips and and available resources to help you stay safe in the cold.
“The Province has also created a new multi-language winter-weather and storm-preparedness guide to help people get ready for, and know what to do when severe winter weather arrives,” said B.C. officials.
Some tips to stay safe include:
- Dress appropriately for the weather by wearing layers with a wind and water-resistant outer layer. Avoid frostbite by covering as much exposed skin as possible by wearing hats, scarves and gloves.
- Be prepared for power outages by developing a household emergency plan and putting together an emergency kit. Stay away from any downed power lines and assume they are live.
- Winterize your home by insulating walls and attics, weather stripping doors and windows, clearing rain gutters and removing tree branches that could fall during windstorms.
B.C. officials also remind residents of the danger of avalanches.
“People who use the backcountry are urged to be mindful of conditions and use extreme caution in mountainous terrain. Download the Avalanche Canada app to get the latest avalanche forecasts,” said B.C. officials.