How to prepare for an emergency evacuation

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Families can work together to prepare what to pack and how they will leave if a fire approaches their area.

They can also find out where to go for fire updates and whether an evacuation warning affects them.

“The conditions this year are so dry that we have seen daily activities that start wildfires,” said Cal Fire Shasta-Trinity Unit spokesperson Cheryl Buliavac. “We cannot stress how important it is to prepare to go and to leave early.”

When possible, many California communities receive advance warnings that they could be evacuated. This means that residents can have time to pack their bags.

“An evacuation warning means ‘be prepared’,” Buliavac said. “One order means’ go now! “”

Even something as simple as a road closure can mean you have to leave immediately – 10 to 15 minutes at most, ”said Raj Singh, spokesperson for the California Incident Management Team, which was stationed in June near the Lava and Tennant fires in Siskiyou County.

Common mistakes made by evacuees are forgetting to take medication, he said.

The salt fire burned east of Interstate 5 near the Salt Creek exit in the Lakehead area of ​​Northern California on Wednesday, June 30, 2021. The fire caused road closures and evacuation of residents.

Another is that some people wait too long. It can be fatal.

“If your house catches fire, grab your family and get out,” Singh said. “If a neighbor’s house is on fire (and you have time), quickly grab some credit cards, some medicine, and get out. If you have a little extra time, take some important documents.”

Here are some steps you can take to prepare in advance for a possible evacuation:

1. Sign up for your community’s alert system and know where to go for fire updates.

Check local fire and police departments’ Facebook and Twitter accounts, sign up for Code Red alerts and check out the 211 Nor Cal Facebook page (, Buliavac said.

Go to to download other alert apps. Others are:

2. Know all the possible escape routes inside and outside your neighborhood.

During Lava Fire evacuation warnings, some residents only knew how to get home on Highway 97, Singh said. “At that time, the highway was closed. Drive each route to know it, and choose a place outside of town where the family can meet: a house, a parking lot, or a park.

File photo - Favor Ni checks out her family's three chickens after being evacuated in the 2018 Carr Fire in Redding, Calif.

3. Provide pets and livestock.

Keep assembled pet carriers and leashes ready. Have your name, mobile number, veterinarian’s name and office number clearly written on the media. For more information on preparing pets for evacuation, see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website at

4. Have important documents and photos handy.

Protect your important documents and photos in a fireproof safe or bank safe. Create password-protected digital copies to be placed in a second secure location.

5. Be ready to go in the middle of the night.

Keep a flashlight, sturdy shoes, and your cell phone near your bed.

6. Have an easily accessible emergency contact list.

Numbers for family, friends, doctors, insurance companies, vets, etc. Put a copy in your emergency kit, and one near your phone or in your cell phone. Ask a family member or friend from out of town who you can call who will pass the updates on to your family and friends.

7. Do an evacuation drill.

Calculate how long it takes to pack your car and get everyone in it and on the road. “Train (to evacuate) with your animals too,” Buliavac said.

8. Have an emergency first aid kit.

Make sure it is easily accessible and includes the following:

  • Prescriptions, drugs, medical alert jewelry and contact information for your doctor
  • An N95 respirator mask, a three-day supply of non-perishable food and three gallons of water for each family member
  • Water, food, poop bags and other supplies for each animal
  • A map with at least two familiar escape routes.
  • At least one change of clothes for each person in your household
  • Additional pairs of glasses and contact lenses
  • Additional car key set
  • Credit cards, cash or travelers checks
  • Additional charging cord for mobile phone
  • First aid kit
  • At least two working flashlights with newer / newly charged batteries and additional batteries
  • A battery-operated emergency radio with extra batteries
  • Cleaning products and toiletries
  • Protection against the COVID-19 pandemic, including additional gloves, alcohol wipes and masks
  • If time allows, add easy-to-carry valuables, family photo albums, computer files on USB drives, laptops and other electronic devices.

After:The fires in the northern state have suspended summer schools. This is how a teacher supports her students

The best way to stay safe is to avoid fires in the first place, Buliavac said. “Take the extra time to be fire-proof in all of your activities. Make the prudent decisions not to use mechanical equipment after 10 a.m. Lawn mowers were designed to mow green grass, not dry weeds. “

Sources: California Bureau of Emergency Services, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and United States Department of Homeland Security.

Jessica Skropanic is a trade journalist for the Record Searchlight / USA Today Network. It covers science, the arts, social issues, and entertainment stories. Follow her on Twitter @RS_JSkropanic and on Facebook. Join Jessica in the Get Out! Neither the Cal recreation Facebook group. To support and perpetuate this work, please register today. Thank you.

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