“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
While the history of this phrase is unknown, it still holds true. Now, we’re not here to talk about planting trees (although that also helps with wildfire recovery), but rather being prepared to be prepared.
As humans continue to move into the “wildland-urban interface” — where human habitation meets wildland vegetation — the danger of wildfire will only increase. Cal Fire states that, “In California, wildfires aren’t a question of if, but only a question of when”.
Just like planting a tree, if you haven’t started growing your fire evacuation plan before now, today is the best time to start.
Before wildfire strikes, take a few moments to prepare yourself and your family!
- Make a Wildfire Action Plan for yourself and your family. Checklists are great for this! Ensure that everyone knows where a designated meet up location is outside the fire zone. Do you have multiple escape routes planned to your destination? Do you have a communication plan yet?
- Prepare an emergency supply kit for each member of your family. Having a “go” bag will help ensure your family members have the supplies they need.
- Find out what emergency resources are available in your community and write them down. Do they have emergency contact numbers or an alerting system? Sign-up before disaster strikes!
Ok, wildfire is coming. There’s a chance you might have to evacuate, so what happens next?
- Be informed! Tune into a local reputable source of information and know what the wildfire risk is to you and your community. What level of evacuation warning is present? Do you know what your neighbors’ plans are? Do they have infirmities, children or pets they might need help with?
- If you haven’t started already, prepare an emergency supply kit for each member of your family. It’s never too late to start preparing. If you’ve already made your kits, now is a great time to refresh and make sure you’ve got all the supplies you’ll need.
Mind your P’s! The United States Forest Service and Cal Fire has this guidance for evacuation preparedness:
- A plan for persons and pets in your family
- Papers, phone numbers, and important documents
- Personal computers, tablets, phones, etc. Be charged and ready to go!
- Prescriptions, medications, eyeglasses, etc.
- Photographs, and other irreplaceable memorabilia
- Plastic (your credit cards, debit cards, etc.)
When the time comes to leave (or even before), it’s time to put all of your planning into action. The most important thing is always your own safety.
- Do not hesitate to evacuate early! Critical road infrastructure can become quickly congested, leading to dangerous situations. By leaving early or when advised, you can help everyone else to evacuate safely as well!
- Make sure you’ve got your emergency kit or supply bag in your vehicle!
- If time permits, cover up to protect against flying embers or debris. By wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants, hats and even goggles, you can help build a layer to protect yourself.
By being better prepared, you’re making your community safer for everyone!
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