It's wildfire season: what you need to be ready.
When they finally came to school no one really knew what to say to them, “Sorry? How are you? Did you get to save any of your stuff?” I was in 4th grade when “the twins” home burned down in a freak wildfire accident. Everyone knew they had lost their home because well, tragic news travels fast and it had been announced on the loudspeaker...(Remember those announcements?). They were looking for donations and reminding all of us to be kind should we run into them.
I was in the same class as the twins. They got up one day during sharing time and said that they didn’t get to save any of their pictures or clothes or toys, it happened so fast that they lost literally everything. They were just grateful they were all okay. I didn’t know what to do other than give them each a hug, but that memory has stuck with me forever - what would you grab if you had no time? Where would you go?
None of us want to suffer the same fate as the twins, but unfortunately with our earth’s temperatures rising, thus resulting in more CO2 levels and more dry land - right now the earth is literally on fire. In fact, we’ve never been hotter.
Comforting right? (*Whispers*, go vote in favor of environmentally friendly laws, recycle, reduce the use of plastic, drive less etc, this stuff is real people.)
What do you do if you only have 2 minutes to evacuate? Be crystal clear on exactly what you need and how you are going to leave. What if you had 5 minutes? Everyone in your household should have this memorized. Do your kids know exactly what to do in case of a fire or emergency evacuation? What do you grab and who do you call? It’s not a bad idea to contact a family member out of state and ask them if you can rely on them for help should you be faced with such an emergency. Schedule timed practice evacuation drills. Do all of this today. Don’t wait.
How to prepare right here, right now.
We know it might seem a little overwhelming but trust us, once you check all of these things off your list you can embrace a new peace of mind.
- Check your risk.
- Create an evacuation plan. Hang it somewhere. (See below, “Your two minute plan”)
- Prepare your home (Smoke alarms, CO2 alarms, fire safety box, pet safety etc)
- Have a 3-day bag packed for every family member and ready to go.
- A pair of shoes at the foot of your bed while you’re sleeping.
- If you’re in an area where wildfires are burning but you haven’t been told to evacuate - have your radio + phones on at all times.
- First aid kit in your car and your home.
- Water (Water you can easily grab and put in your car if needed)
- Respirators ready in your car and or home.
- Have a radio so you can be informed of alerts in your area.
- Check your smoke detectors and CO2 detectors once a week.
- During wildfire season, try to keep your gas tank full or have spare fuel you can grab quickly - so you are prepared to drive far in an emergency evacuation.
Wildfire can create harmful smoke for you to breathe EVEN IF that fire is hundreds of miles away. We’re talking this stuff is just as harmful as second-hand cigarette smoke. Smoke is especially harmful for children, pregnant women and those with asthma. Protect yourself and your family.
What do I grab?
Now is a good time to back up all of your photos on a harddrive, have your journals, grandmother’s jewelry - things that are absolutely irreplaceable all in one convenient, fire-proof box.
Make a very small list of things you would be devastated without and keep them all in one safe small place that’s easy to grab. Ask your children what they would like to take in case of an emergency evacuation too. Have them put something in the box so they feel better prepared with you.
What should I have in my 3 day bag?
Think like you’re going on vacation, pack clothes and toiletries but also bring non-easily perishable food (think protein bars, dried fruit, nut-butter packets etc) and water. Pack a jacket. Think about your pet. Have some dog food in a sealed container for them in one of the day bags. Each family member should have their own day-bag packed (WITH non-perishable food + water) and tennis shoes accessible at the foot of their beds in case of an emergency.
Ready to go bags.
Don't feel like going the DIY route? We've got several great options that are ready to go. Check out three of our favorite below. Note that you still need to add personal items like medication, a change of clothes, a local map and documents.