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What To Pack If You Need To Evacuate

What To Pack If You Need To Evacuate

California is home to over 33 million acres of enchanting forested land. But with that beauty comes potential peril. Preparing to face that potential fire-related peril may not seem that important until you have three minutes to leave your home. What would you grab if you had three minutes to get out of harm’s way?

As of September 14, 2020, a total of 7,718 fires have burned 3,451,428 acres. That’s more than 3% of the state’s roughly 100 million total acres of land.  The 2020 wildfire season is now “the worst fire season” recorded in California history, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. 

Plan, Prepare, and Stay Aware”, says Cal Fire

The gift of preparedness may provide your loved ones the best chance of surviving a wildfire.  Being ready to go and evacuating early just might save not only your life but also the firefighters working hard to beat back those flames.

What is in Your “Go Bag”?

Emergencies and disasters can happen at any time. You should always be prepared to pick up and evacuate an area quickly.  One of the best ways to do that is to have a packed-and-ready “go bag” near your front door, in your car trunk, perhaps at work, or any other easily accessed place.

What’s in Your Go-Bag?

A “go bag” can be any style of bag, however, it appears the most commonly recommended choice is a backpack. A simple backpack stuffed to the top with emergency necessities can help feel a bit more prepared for the unexpected.  Make sure you stock your “go bag” with all the basic emergency materials to help you and each member of your group stay safe until you can reach shelter or a designated meet up point.

What To Bring

1) Prescriptions, Medicines, Hygiene, and First Aid

These items might include the following:

  • Inhalers
  • Epipens
  • Glasses or Contacts (with solution and cases)
  • Baby Diapers
  • Formula
  • Sanitary Napkins
  • Adult Diapers

2) Toiletries

These items might include the following:

  • Toothbrushes for every family member
  • Toothpaste
  • Soap
  • Deodorant
  • Feminine products
  • Band-Aids
  • Ointment

3) Cash & ID

These items might include the following:

  • Cash
  • Checkbooks
  • Passport
  • Social Security Cards
  • Credit Cards
  • Driver’s License
  • Keys to home and vehicles
  • Proof of current address or deed to home (to re-enter a restricted area)

4) Clothes & Comfort

These items might include the following:

  • Sturdy shoes
  • Long pants
  • Jacket
  • Extra socks and underwear
  • Long-sleeved shirts
  • Hats
  • Gloves
  • Scarves
  • Sleeping bag and blanket
  • Pillows
  • Towels
  • Lighter and matches
  • Tent
  • Flashlight
  • Garbage bags
  • Ziploc bags

5) Electronics

These items might include the following:

  • Phones
  • Tablets
  • Laptops
  • Chargers for each device
  • Flashlight
  • Battery-powered radio with extra batteries

6) Bottled Water

7) Snacks

8) Special Equipment for Infants, Elderly, or Disabled Family Members

9) “Comfort Items” Such as Special Toys for Kids

10) Photo Albums and Wedding Albums

11) Pet Food and Other Items for Your Fur Babies

These items might include the following:

  • Litter Boxes
  • Leases
  • Pet IDs, tags, and registration

What About My Pets?

A lot of families have pets but many families forget to think about them when an emergency hits. Make sure you have a plan for your pets as well. This means making sure that they have a carrier or other container meant to transport them. Pets can easily be spooked by carriers and crates if you haven’t trained them to be comfortable in them. Set some time to crate train your pets. It’s as simple as luring them into the carrier with food and treats. Pets should associate good things with their crate!

Aside from the items listed above, your pets need their bedding, food, water, and any toys to keep them entertained. If your pets need medication, take them with you too.

Don’t Be Afraid to Talk About Fire Safety with Your Kids!

A part of an evacuation plan for families with children should include helping kids know how to respond in case of fire. You can help reduce the panic that comes in those fearful moments by preparing ahead of time. Create and practice a family fire escape plan. Talk to your children about what they can do to be safe if a fire is near. It’s important to be calm, reassuring, and use age-appropriate language. This allows your kids to develop understanding and confidence, not fear.

Here are a few resources that offer guides and suggestions for families with children about fire safety and preparing for a fire disaster:

  • Smokey Kids: U.S. Forest Service’s interactive Smokey Bear site with games, information, and resources on how to prevent forest fires.
  • Scouting Magazine: Survival strategies to help you escape a forest fire with Boy Scouts WildFire Safety information.
  • Parent’s Guide to Fire Safety for Babies and Toddlers: The U.S. Fire Administration’s information site for parents and caregivers to help prevent fire death of young children.
  • Let’s Get Ready! Planning Together for Emergencies: Sesame Workshop campaign with tips, activities, and other easy tools to help the whole family prepare for emergencies.
  • Kids: FEMA’s site for older kids to prepare and plan for a disaster. Includes safety steps, tips, and games to help children learn about and be ready for an emergency.
  • National Fire Protection Association:  An international nonprofit organization devoted to eliminating death, injury, property, and economic loss due to fire, electrical, and related hazards.

Take a few moments this weekend and “Get Prepared”.  As Benjamin Franklin said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Prepare to live.

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About The Author

Michelle Silveira

Michelle is an American television actress from Hollywood contracted with Disney and Warner Bros. Studios who is known for her comedic roles in many television shows including The Steve Harvey Show, Step by Step and Living Single. She holds a bachelor’s degree from SFSU in Psychology and Drama. Michelle has a passion for film, television, world travel, history and culture. She is an avid reader and an inspiring movie buff with a keen sense of fashion and food along with a deep love for animals, people and life.

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