Terms You Should Know

Evacuation Stages

  • Evacuation Order


    You are at risk. Leave the area immediately. Local police or RCMP enforce evacuation orders.
  • Evacuation Alert:

    Be ready to leave on short notice. If you leave before or during this alert, it’s called a voluntary evacuation.
  • Evacuation Rescind:

    All is currently safe and you can return home. Stay tuned for other possible evacuation alerts or orders.
Read more about Knowing The Risks.

Flooding Terms

  • Flood Warning:

    River levels have exceeded bankfull or will exceed bankfull imminently, and that flooding of areas adjacent to affected rivers will result.
  • Flood Watch:

    River levels are rising and will approach or may exceed bankfull. Flooding of areas adjacent to affected rivers may occur.
  • High Streamflow Advisory:

    River levels are rising or expected to rise rapidly, but, no major flooding is expected. Minor flooding in low-lying areas is possible.
  • Emergency #Hashtags:

    Emergency Info BC has compiled a list of evolving, trending and most-used emergency hashtags for your reference.
Read more about How to be Prepared for Flooding.

Heat Terms

  • Heat Wave:

    Prolonged period of excessive heat, often combined with excessive humidity.
  • Heat Index:

    A number in degrees Fahrenheit (F) that tells how hot it feels when relative humidity is added tothe air temperature. Exposure to full sunshine can increase the heat index by 15 degrees.
  • Heat Cramps:

    Muscular pains and spasms due to heavy exertion. Although heat cramps are the least severe, they are often the first signal that the body is having trouble with the heat.
  • H

    eat Exhaustion:

    Typically occurs when people exercise heavily or work in a hot, humid place where body fluids are lost through heavy sweating. Blood flow to the skin increases, causing blood flow to decrease to the vital organs. This results in a form of mild shock. If not treated, the victim's condition will worsen. Body temperature will keep rising and the victim may suffer heat stroke.
  • Heat Stroke:

    A life-threatening condition. The victim's temperature control system, which produces sweating to cool the body, stops working. The body temperature can rise so high that brain damage and death may result if the body is not cooled quickly.
  • Sun Stroke:

    Another term for heat stroke.
  • Excessive Heat Watch:

    Conditions are favorable for an excessive heat event to meet or exceed local Excessive Heat Warning criteria in the next 24 to 72 hours.
  • Excessive Heat Warning:

    Heat Index values are forecast to meet or exceed locally defined warning criteria for at least 2 days (daytime highs=105-110° Fahrenheit).
  • Heat Advisory:

    Heat Index values are forecast to meet locally defined advisory criteria for 1 to 2 days (daytime highs=100-105° Fahrenheit).
Read more about How to be Prepared for Extreme Weather.

Winter Weather Terms

  • Sleet:

    Rain that turns to ice pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet also causes moisture on roads to freeze and become slippery.
  • Wind Chill:

    Windchill is the temperature it “feels like” when you are outside. The NWS provides a Windchill Chart to show the difference between air temperature and the perceived temperature and the amount of time until frostbite occurs.
  • Winter Weather Advisory:

    Winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous. When caution is used, these situations should not be life threatening. The NWS issues a winter weather advisory when conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences that may be hazardous. If caution is used, these situations should not be life-threatening.
  • Winter Storm Watch:

    A winter storm is possible in your area. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for more information. The NWS issues a winter storm watch when severe winter conditions, such as heavy snow and/or ice, may affect your area but, the location and timing are still uncertain. A winter storm watch is issued 12 to 36 hours in advance of a potential severe storm. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, local radio, TV, or other news sources for more information. Monitor alerts, check your emergency supplies, and gather any items you may need if you lose power.
  • Winter Storm Warning:

    A winter storm is occurring or will soon occur in your area.
  • Blizzard Warning:

    Sustained winds or frequent gusts to 35 miles per hour or greater and considerable amounts of falling or blowing snow (reducing visibility to less than a quarter mile) are expected to prevail for a period of three hours or longer.
  • F

    rost/Freeze Warning:

    Below freezing temperatures are expected.
  • Freezing Rain:

    Rain that freezes when it hits the ground, creating a coating of ice on roads, walkways, trees and power lines.
Read more about How to be Prepared for Extreme Weather.

Thunderstorm Terms

  • Severe Thunderstorm Watch:

    Tells you when and where severe thunderstorms are likely to occur. Watch the sky and stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or television for information.
  • Severe Thunderstorm Warning:

    Issued when severe weather has been reported by spotters or indicated by radar. Warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property to those in the path of the storm.
Read more about How to be Prepared for a Extreme Weather.

Tsunami Alert Levels

  • Warning:

    This is the highest level of tsunami alert. Warnings are issued due to the imminent threat of a tsunami from a large undersea earthquake, or following confirmation that a potentially destructive tsunami is underway. They may initially be based only on seismic information as a means of providing the earliest possible alert. Warnings advise that appropriate actions be taken in response to the tsunami threat. Such actions could include the evacuation of low-lying coastal areas.
  • Advisory:

    This is the second highest level of tsunami alert. Advisories are issued due to the threat of a tsunami that has the potential to produce strong currents dangerous to those in or near the water. Significant inundation is not expected for areas under an Advisory but, coastal zones may be at risk due to strong currents. Appropriate actions by local emergency management personnel may include closing beaches and evacuating harbours and marinas.
  • Watch:

    This is the third highest level of tsunami alert. Watches are based on seismic information, without confirmation that a destructive tsunami is underway. There is a potential threat to a zone under a tsunami Watch but, communities have time to prepare. Emergency management personnel and coastal residents should prepare to take action in case the Watch is upgraded.
  • Cancellation:

    A “cancellation” cancels any previously issued tsunami messages. It is issued when there is no longer observed evidence of tsunami waves at tide gauge stations. Local conditions may differ from those at tide gauge stations and local authorities should determine the safety of coastlines. Once a cancellation has been issued for a tsunami event, EMBC will no longer issue tsunami messages.
Read more about How to be Prepared for a Tsunami.

Emergency #Hashtag List

When emergencies hit, the public often wants to be part of the online conversation. #hashtags can be used to connect and share information about emergency response and prevention activities taking place at home and around the world.

As a guide, Emergency Info BC has compiled a quick list of evolving, trending and most-used emergency hashtags in British Columbia.

Alerts & Bulletins

#StormReady or #BCstorm

Preparedness Campaigns

#FPW (Fire Prevention Week)
#ValentinesDay #Preparedness
#EPWeek (Emergency Preparedness Week)
#Zombie #Preparedness (Zombie Preparedness Week)
#Volunteer or #NVW (National Volunteer Week)
#ShakeOutBC (ShakeOut BC)