Evacuation Preparation List
(This article is re-posted from December 9, 2017)
With the Thomas Fire growing and evacuations covering more of Santa Barbara County, it's important to have an evacuation game plan in place. Whether you're in a high fire zone or not, the following are tips that are good for anyone to follow.
What to Have Ready
1. Emergency Kit
A grab-and-go kit that includes essential supplies, such as water, food, first-aid, flashlights, batteries, etc. For a good list of what to include, visit https://www.ready.gov/build-a-kit.
2. Documents & More
Copies of important papers kept in a plastic, waterproof case. These should include:
- Driver’s license
- Deed to your house or rental agreement.
- Proof of insurance
- Medical records
- Social security cards
- A list of personal contacts
- Spare keys
- Cash and credit cards
- Chargers for electronics and fully charged power banks
Keep all medications that you may need for at least two-weeks in the same place to make it easy to locate and grab in a hurry.
Make sure all pets are micro-chipped and have I.D. collars. A pet grab-and-go kit could include leashes, medications, meal bowls, and three days worth of food and water.
5. Yard Prep
Maintain trees and shrubs so diseased or weakened branches won’t fall down and damage your property.
6. Utility Shutoffs
Learn how to safely shut off all utility services in your home. FEMA has tips for shutting off electricity, water, and gas.
7. Stockpile Materials
Nonperishable food, water, batteries, flashlights, etc.
8. Wildfire Action Plan
Create a designated meeting place for everyone in the household and plan an escape route. Learn more on readyforwildfire.org
Prep Your House
If you have the time to prep your house before evacuating, this will help:
- Make sure all windows and doors are closed and unlocked. Seal any vents in the ground or attic so that air can’t get through
- Move all flammable items (including furniture, curtains, window shades, mats, and toys) to the center of the room, away from windows, and doors
- Shut off gas at the meter, and turn off propane tanks, pilot lights, and air conditioning
- Leave interior and exterior lights on so that your house remains visible to firefighters through dark or smoky conditions
- Connect garden hoses to outside water valves or spigots so that firefighters can use them. Don’t leave the sprinklers on, as they might affect water pressure
Time to Evacuate
When an evacuation is recommended by local law enforcement, it's best to leave. This will help you avoid being caught in a fire, smoke or traffic. This will also help firefighters keep roads clear, which allows them to work without obstacles. The difference between warning/voluntary evacuations and mandatory evacuations can be defined here. Essentially a mandatory evacuation means its best to leave as soon as possible while a voluntary evacuation means be prepared to leave at any time.
If you have someone with special needs that require extra attention and time, it's best to leave during the warning and voluntary evacuation period. there’s no need to wait for an evacuation order to leave.
When the need to evacuate arises:
- Go through your evacuation plan checklist and do whatever you can in the time allowed.
- Make sure your emergency supply kit is in your vehicle.
- Cover-up to protect against heat and flying embers. Wear long pants, long sleeve shirt, heavy shoes/boots, cap, dry bandanna for face cover, goggles or glasses. 100 percent cotton is preferable.
- Locate your pets and take them with you.
Where to Go
The Red Cross will most likely have a shelter set up. Emergency personnel will have the details of where to go or you can find a designated public shelter by texting SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 to find the nearest shelter in your area.
Learn more on CalFire's Ready for Wildfire website.