Blog Things In LA

Fire Evacuation Guide

In light of the Woolsey and Peak fires in the San Fernando Valley, Malibu, and Ventura County, I started to worry that I may need to evacuate as the fire seems to continue to spread. To add to that, new fires are also sprouting up.

I figured it was worth my time to do some research on how to properly evacuate our home, if needed. 

Even though I have lived in SoCal most of my life, I’ve never actually been in a position where I was concerned about evacuating. This includes the every fire we’ve previously had, our recent floods, the Northridge earthquake, and the Rodney King riots.

Girl walking on hillside road.
Photo by Kate Joie on Unsplash

What to have ready for evacuation

Something maybe most of us say we will prepare, but never do because the emergency passes… is our Emergency Kit. This is something that you need to have ready and waiting, much like a pregnancy bag. Something you’ll quickly grab without second thought to its contents because everything inside it is something you will need and everything inside it is functioning and not expired.

Visit Ready.gov

This is a great resource for checklists, covering general supplies and lists specific to seniors and pets. Generally, you want supplies to last each individual for 72 hours.

This is also a great resource for teaching you how to have a plan for these unexpected emergencies.

According to their website, here are some of the basics for your emergency kit.

  • Water – one gallon/day per person for 3+ days, for drinking and sanitation. (Potable)
  • Food – 3+ day supply of non-perishable unexpired food. (Sounds like a duh moment, but its amazing how quickly these things get forgotten until the moment of truth.)
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio with extra batteries.
  • NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert.  (I have no idea what this item is, but hopefully Amazon has it. It does!)
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help, possibly for each person. 
  • Dust face mask (air filter for breathing)
  • Plastic sheeting and duct tape if you need to shelter-in-place
  • Wet wipe and garbage bags
  • Wrench/pliers to turn off utilities
  • Manual can opener for food
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery
  • Special items for your pets – DO NOT LEAVE THEM BEHIND.
  • Special items for your elderly – meds, etc.
boy holding a cat
Photo by Elisey Vavulin on Unsplash

Have A Plan

Emergencies happen at anytime. If it happens at a time when you and your peoples are not together, like say at your separate workplaces and the kids at school.

You need to have a plan, should you not be able to communicate with each other. In the event of an emergency, phone lines could be jammed, or systems could be down.

  • Decide on an emergency meeting place (an indoor, outdoor, in your neighbourhood, outside of your neighbourhood, and out-of-town, pet-friendly if you need)
  • Make sure everyone knows the important contact info (doctors, vets, ER, school, babysitter, etc.)
  • Have a couple of out-of-town contacts who can help relay information. According to Ready.gov, because crisis locations likely will have jammed phone lines, it may be easier to reach someone out of town, simply because their phone lines will not be under so much pressure.
  • Know what’s NOT already in your emergency bag and have a plan on how to collect them. Important documents such as evidence of ownership for your home might be required to prove that you do live and own in the property you’re trying to access. If time allows, this could also include sentimental items like photo albums.

…But before you leave

If you have the time, there are some precautions you could also take to help ensure that you come home to a place you can still live in, should it survive the worst.

ReadyForWildfire.com has a Pre-evacuation checklist you can reference. Some examples are:

  • Shutting off your gas and pilot lights.
  • Leaving your outdoor lights on so firefighters can find your home.
  • Boarding up the windows so they don’t shatter.
  • Bringing all items not bolted to the ground indoors.
Girl in the back of stocked camper van.
Photo by Brina Blum on Unsplash

Until an evacuation…

Luckily, we were not required to evacuate, nor were we even on a voluntary evacuation list, but we were definitely close to the boundary lines. That alone cued me up for preparation only to realize, not even Amazon’s 2-day shipping may be able to help me out. (Okay, maybe it might have but I feel like I’m just adding to the problem by having things delivered? I dunno.)

This does help me get a little bit wiser to being prepared. Being that we also have 5 animals in our home, it’s not just us I’m going to be worried about. The less items I have to consider as we hustle out the door, the more attention I can pay to the attention and safety of our little fluffy kids. 

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