Do you live in an area where wildfires are common? Wildfires can get out of hand pretty quickly, so you must prepare ahead. Here's how to evacuate if you live near a fire.
Evacuating If You Live Near a Fire-Prone Area
Since the beginning of 2020, wildfires have raged through California, burning nearly 3.2 million acres of land. 24 people have died and over 4,200 structures have been destroyed. While some people evacuate early and can leave with their important possessions, others flee as flames approach their homes.
If you’re near a fire or live in an area where they are common, there are steps you should take to safeguard your valuable and irreplaceable possessions. If you have sufficient warning that a fire is approaching that could devastate your home, plan ahead, and make arrangements that will protect you and your family.
1. Rent a Storage Unit
Consider temporarily renting a small storage unit for your valuable things that can’t be replaced, such as photo albums and important documents. Other items that should be moved to a storage unit include anything that could potentially explode and do further damage to your homes, such as fuel and ammunition.
2. Duplicate Important Documents
Keep duplicate copies of all vital documents, social security cards, marriage/birth certificates, insurance policies, passports, etc. in several locations, such as with a family member, in a storage unit, and in a fireproof box.
3. Scan Photo Albums
If you have ample warning that a fire is approaching, scan all your photo albums to the cloud. Free apps like CamScan will let you scan PDFs of photos and documents so that you can access them from anywhere.
4. Prepare for Insurance Claims
In addition to taking photos and videos of the interior and exterior of your home, take pictures of the serial numbers, makes, and models of your electronics. This includes TVs, printers, computers, refrigerators, freezers, and any other large appliances.
5. Know Where You’re Going
Before you need it, pre-arrange a safe place to stay with friends or family. Make sure that they are expecting you and can accommodate you and your family.
6. Help the Firefighters Out
Make a sign for your front yard stating that the house has been evacuated of both pets and people so that the firefighters do not have to risk their lives attempting to evacuate an empty house. This will save them a lot of time and trouble when they could be assisting other people who need them.
If You Have No Warning
If you have no warning or insufficient time to prepare, and you must evacuate immediately, follow these steps:
- Shoot a quick video of your home, walking through and documenting each room in your house and the contents.
- Pack your vehicle with the following:
- Your Bug Out Bags
- Pet food/leashes if you have pets
- Infant Formula and Diapers if you have babies
- Medications and Face Masks (During COVID)
- Important Personal and Identification Documents
- Personal Computer/Phone and chargers
- A week of clothing for each person (7 shirts, 2-3 pants, 7 underwear, 7 socks)
- Concealed Carry Weapons (Looters often come into evacuated areas to try to steal)
- Portable Shelter (tent, tarp, homeless survival shelter, yurt, teepee, etc.)
- Food and water to sustain the entire family for at least 72 hours
- First Aid Kit
- Portable video games or board games for children
- Blankets/Sleeping Bags
- Toilet Paper and/or Wipes
- Photo Albums
Remember that material possessions can be replaced, but lives cannot be. Evacuate early if you can, or immediately after being told to do so. Do not put your life or the lives of firefighters in danger by staying in your home when it has been deemed unsafe to do so.
Do you already have an evacuation plan prepared? Whether you live near a fire-prone area or not, you need one. Do share with us how you'll make your plan in the comments section!
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