Living in a Northern California rental, the threat of a wildfire is all too real, especially after the destruction left by the Carr Fire in Redding and the Camp Fire in Paradise. However, these tragic occurrences can re-instill the importance of having a fire emergency kit and an evacuation plan.
If you ever do have to evacuate you won’t know if you have a few hours or just a few minutes, so being prepared for both scenarios can be extremely beneficial. As the saying goes, "hope for the best but prepare for the worst."
Packing Your Kit
When it comes to what you pack, make sure that you can easily carry it, like a backpack or duffel bag. For heavier items like water and food, purchase a bag that has wheels so you can maneuver it with ease. If you live alone make sure that after packing your kit you can carry it on your own.
Pre-Packed Kit of Basic Essentials
In the event that you don’t have a lot of time to evacuate it's good to have a pre-packed bag with the basic essentials:
- Water – the general rule is that you have a three-day supply. This is both for drinking and sanitation. The amount of water depends on how many people you're planning for. Here’s the formula: [Number of People x Number of Days = Number of Gallons of Water Needed] If you have a pet make sure you factor in extra water for them as well.
- Food – the rule of thumb is to have enough non-perishable food for three days. If you have a pet make sure you pack some food for them as well.
- Extra Batteries
- Hand-Crank or Battery-Operated Radio
- First Aid Kit – you can either create your own kit by purchasing the items on this list or head on down to a local store such as Target or Walmart where they have a stock of kits that range from basic to heavy duty.
- Change of Clothes
Additional Items to Pack
Creating a list ahead of time of any other items you'd want to take with you will help you focus in the frenzy if you do have to evacuate.
- Prescription Medications
- Non-prescription Medications - you’ll more than likely have some already in your first aid kit but you could add some extra meds you know you use frequently.
- Important Documents – you can either place all the documents in a folder that's easy to access or scan them into your computer and place them on a flash drive.
- Social Security Number(s)
- Driver's License
- Birth Certificate(s)
- Marriage License
- Medical Records
- Your Will
- Proof of Insurance
- Names, Addresses, Phone Numbers of Personal Contacts
- Extra Cash or Traveler's Checks
- Clothes for a Few Days – make sure you grab clothes that fit the current climate; if you pack warm clothes make sure you have at least one change of clothes for cold weather and visa versa.
- Personal Hygiene Items – feminine products, toothbrush/toothpaste, soap, shampoo/conditioner, etc.
- Warm Blanket or Sleeping Bag
- Pet Supplies – extra water and food
- Valuables that are easily carried – it would be beneficial to create a list ahead of time of the things you would want to grab in the event you couldn’t go back home, such as photo albums, jewelry or family heirlooms.
Maintaining Your Kit
Make sure you and everyone else in your home knows where the pre-packed bag(s) are at all times. Check the expiration dates on perishable items (like food or medications) yearly and replace them as needed.
Even if you don’t have any perishable items, it’s still a good practice to pull the bag out each year and go through it as things can change from year to year. Items that were important to you or clothes that fit last year may not be important or fit anymore, or you might catch that something is missing.
The more prepared you are, the less brain work you'll have to actually use if you get the call to evacuate. If you're in a high-stress situation like an evacuation, having a pre-packed bag ready to go, creating an evacuation plan, and writing out a list of the items you’d want to bring with you will save you the stress of trying to remember in the moment.
Map out the escape routes that are in your home and see if you can find at least two exit points in the event that one becomes inaccessible.
Create a meeting place on the chance that not everyone is home when the evacuation hits. Pick a place that is out of the evacuation area, whether it be a friend’s house or the parking lot of a store you frequent.
Have pre-packed bags that are ready to go with a moment's notice. Make sure that you place your "go bag" in a spot that's easy to get to, such as the closet, by the front door or in your car.
Create a list of last minute items that you either need to pack or do around your home in the event that you're given time to evacuate. This list can be placed in/on your pre-packed bag or another place that is easy to remember when you get the notice.
For more information on ways to prepare for wildfire season check out Cal Fire's Ready, Set, Go guides.
If you live in a Northern Californian rental, have you considered renter’s insurance? With fire season upon us, having it can be an extra piece of relief knowing you’re insured in case of a natural disaster. The best part of renter’s insurance is that it covers you for other scenarios besides a natural disaster.