Wildfires can spark and spread at a moment’s notice. If you are in a high risk area, you may only have a few seconds to grab your family and get out the door. However, there are preparations you can make for a smooth escape. Although it is difficult to leave your home in danger, your family’s safety is most important, so if you are asked to evacuate, please do so immediately.
What Can I do to prepare my family for evacuation
- Prepare an evacuation plan, including a checklist of what to do and what to take. It helps if you already have a survival kit ready. Your disaster survival kit would be a great start! Hopefully you also have a kit in your car.
- Evacuation centers are always set up, but if you have a family member or friend you can stay with, that might be preferable. Make plans ahead of time so you and your family knows where to go.
- Your evacuation plan should include a scenario in which your family is not all together, as well as if no one is home and you have enough notice to get your pets. Where will you meet? Who will pick up the kids and who will pick up the pets? Will a neighbor grab your pets for you?
- Make sure your car has gas. You don’t want to get stuck because your car ran out of gas. A great rule is to never allow your gas tank to go below 1/4 full.
- Round up all your pets and family members and stay in one room together. This makes it easier to quickly leave the house.
- Park the car facing the evacuation route.
- If you are being evacuated, you may not have time to grab your whole survival kit but according to evacuees surveyed by the American Red Cross, the following items are must haves for evacuating a wildfire (we added a few of our own too):
-Medications for family AND pets
-Cash in small bills & coins; credit cards and ID- Comfortable clothing (think sweats and sturdy shoes)
-Personal Items (cell phones and chargers, family pictures, tablet/laptop with chargers, your bed pillow, favorite books, something for kids to play with if you have young children)
-Insurance paperwork and contact info; other important personal paperwork. Travelers Insurance suggested putting all important personal paperwork on a flash drive that you can easily grab. It is also suggested that important paperwork be stored in a fire resistant safe or in a safety deposit box at another location
What should I do once I am evacuated?
- Turn off gas and pilot lights
- Turn on a light in every room (for increased visibility)
- Move any combustible patio furniture inside the home
- Move flammable furniture away from windows and glass doors
- Connect garden hoses to outside faucets
- Hose down your roof and the outside of your home. Preferably for 15 minutes.
- Lock your home
- Follow the designated evacuation route
- Notify an out of area family member or friend that you have been evacuated and tell them where you will be.