Ordering an evacuation of all or part of an affected area is a very serious step and requires detailed planning. In British Columbia, the Emergency Program Act (1993) permits the head of a local authority to declare a State of Local Emergency. A Declaration allows the local authority to order an evacuation should it be absolutely necessary. There are several other statutes (Fire Services Act, Forest Act, Health Act, Waste Management Act and Mines Act) that can also be used to order an evacuation.
The evacuation procedure normally follows these three stages:
Stage 1 - Evacuation Alert
Authorities will alert the population at risk of the potential for evacuation because of the danger of possible loss of life. People in the affected area should be prepared to evacuate the area if and when an Evacuation Order is issued. An Evacuation Alert can be transmitted by:
- door-to-door campaign with pamphlets delivered;
- radio and/or television broadcast;
- sirens and mobile public address announcements (RCMP and fire);
- telephone calls; and
- electronic media (internet/email).
Stage 2 - Evacuation Order
LEAVE THE AREA NOW! The Evacuation Order will include the time the Order is in effect and the boundaries of the area to be evacuated.
All persons in the affected area will be ordered, in the interest of their own safety, to leave the area. The RCMP will enforce the Evacuation Order.
Stage 3 - All Clear
When the emergency is under control and it is declared safe to return to the area, a retraction of the Evacuation Order will be implemented by issuing an All Clear.