In light of the recent Fort McMurray wildfire in Alberta, Canada, this blog post from last year highlights what to do as we approach wildfire season and how we can prepare. Our thoughts go out to all those affected and displaced due to the fire.
Wildfires have dominated the news recently and here in Oregon ,firefighters are fighting multiple large fires throughout the state that have claimed over 30 homes and evacuated many residents living in close proximity to them.
So if you are faced with an evacuation from a wildfire. What are some things you need to know:
1.) Pay attention to the news in your area. If there is a wildfire in your area or within 25 miles, pay attention to the news. Wildfires can move VERY VERY fast and can cover large distances rather quickly as well as change direction. Pay attention to the local authorities and listen to their evacuation warnings, including routes of evacuations.
2.) Have your emergency kit ready to go, in your car so that if the evacuation order is issued, you are ready to go.
3.) Include a spare change of clothes in your emergency kit. If you are asked to evacuate, it may be an unknown amount of time before you are able to get back home. This includes toiletries as well. Most evacuees will head to an evacuation center that will have resources and facilities.
4.) Keep Important documents with you. Evacuating for a wildfire is NOT the time to be looking for Birth Certificates, Passports, etc. keep all important papers including identification ones with you and included in your emergency kit to go. You do not need to store them in your bag, you can keep them wherever they maybe safe in your home. But place them in your bag if you are being asked to be ready to evacuate.
Precious items that can't be replaced (photo albums, etc) place in the car as well. but don't take EVERYTHING thinking it can't be replaced. Use common sense, insurance will replace the 60'' TV.
(Also: Scan important documents into a flash drive and password protect it and keep the flash drive in your emergency kit. These would include taxes returns, stock holdings etc. After a disaster, federal aid is available but needs supporting documentation that may have been lost in the disaster. MANY people find that out the hard way after a disaster and have to wait for a long time while places such as the IRS look for your returns. The delay adds up to weeks, especially in widespread areas hit by a disaster)
5.) Advise loved ones outside the area where you will be going in the event of an evacuation. During the immediate evacuation phase, things may be to hectic to let everyone know and the place you may be going might not have reception.
6.) CHILDREN: As if the wildfire isn't scary enough, evacuating your home because the fire is coming and people in uniforms with flashing lights and sirens on their cars are asking you to leave immediately can leave children extremely scared. Discuss with your children what may happen in the coming days or hours. Let them know that the firefighters are there to help.
If you have YOUNG children, let them grab a few things that are important and comforting to them (Stuffed animals, blankets, etc) and place them in their kit. Let them help grab stuff around the house so they feel that they are helping.
7.) REMEMBER PETS. Pets are family too and understand YOUR evacuation center may not be Pet Friendly or Pets will go to a different area. Have a small supply for food for them and some items that are comforting to them with you when you evacuate. If you're able to get information from the authorities on pet evacuation shelters, great. If not, on arriving, let the shelter know you have a pet.