Friday, August 14, 2015

Wildfire Evacuation Plan

Sunset courtesy of wildfire smoke
I'm really not an alarmist or one of those people that thinks we'll all lose our homes at some point, but with over 200 wildfires going around our area, and threats of lightning storms, I'm starting to worry and plan for the worst.  Being from the Midwest, I've never lived under such threat of fire, so I asked my girlfriends last night for their advice on what to do if we have to be evacuated.  Many of their ideas were actually really great, so I'm going to give you a list of what to do in order of importance, with the idea that your family and children are safely evacuated (or on their way out) and you have some time to load your vehicles to leave. Don't ever put yourself or your family in harms way for things in your home!

What to do before an evacuation:
  1. Put all important documents in a portable, fire safe file if possible.  Files to gather: Birth certificates, marriage certificates,Medical insurance cards, home and car insurance, vehicle titles, passports, cash if on hand, etc.
  2. Have all important photo albums in a ready location with a plan to take them.
  3. Talk to your children about evacuation route and where to go.  Maybe even make a map and laminate it where it will be available.  I know in our case, we will be having our teenagers driving our vehicles out, so a plan is good!  In our situation, we have trimming in the alternate route to make, so a plan for that is needed.
  4. Make a written plan for what to pack in each vehicle that is going.
  5. Pack a 72 hour pack.  This should be portable, but include food, water, blanket, basic personal care likes soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, toilet paper, and fire starter to last for 72 hours.
  6. Talk with family (and maybe even make a list in order of importance for each person) about what they couldn't live without, or would want to take with them.  Don't leave small children out of this conversation!  Small children will be more manageable in an emergency if they have their favorite blanket, doll or special item with them!
  7. Take a picture of all of your items of value and rooms as they are before the fire and store the pictures away from the home.
  8. Pack & update First Aid and survival kits in all vehicles!
In the case of an evacuation:
  1. Keep all cars, vehicles and trailers parked in a ready to go out the driveway at all times! 
  2. Hook up all trailers to the rigs in a ready to drive away position.
  3. Kennel family pets in safe place in escape vehicle, away from the chaos of packing.  They may frighten and run away, so better to make them ready and be certain to have them.
  4. Load most important livestock in trailer or truck if you have room for them.  In our case, we have 3 fair lambs that will need to go in our truck. 
  5. Turn all other livestock loose.  Apparently, most livestock, given the opportunity to flee from fire, will know what to do.  In our case, we have 25 chickens, which would be impossible to move at once, or even take care of.  On the other hand, they will survive if they get to a safe area without us!
  6. Load Important Document file
  7. Load 72 hour pack
  8. Each family member grab their one special item (hopefully you talked about that)
  9. Load small valuables.  This could be money, jewelry, etc.
  10. Load electronics.  All phones, cords, batteries, cameras, laptops, tablets.  I know this seems weird, but I know that I can't imagine living without these for long!  They are replaceable, but make life easier!
  11. Grab and extras you can fit for everyday living, like clothing, blankets, pillows, food
  12. When the vehicles are full, move them to a safe distance right away, with the children.
  13. If you can return or if time allows, load larger items of value if possible.
Keep in mind that NO THING is more important than the safety and well-being of your family, not even an animal, livestock or pet is worth more than your kids!

Have you ever been evacuated?  Have I missed anything?  I would love to update my lists if I don't have it all.  Also,  a good browse of Pinterest will produce some great lists to print.  If you follow me on Pinterest and check my Organization and Cleaning board, I have some of my favorites in there.