With fires once again threatening Californians, it’s a good time to reread this post I put up on January 15 regarding preparing yourself to escape the dangers of wildfires.
You can never be too prepared. After I wrote a piece about building better homes in areas prone to wildfires, a client and I began talking about the subject. He lives in California and is already ahead of the game in preparing for potential wildfires that could affect his neighborhood. In our discussion he mentioned the “Six Ps” of wildfire evacuation preparedness.
The first thing you need to know about wildfire evacuations is the three evacuation levels designated by the USDA. And you should know what they mean.
Level I is the first indication that your area may be threatened by a wildfire. Red alert time.
LEVEL I (1) EVACUATION or PROTECTION ALERT: A wildfire threat is in your area. It would be wise to consider planning and/or packing, in the event an evacuation becomes necessary.
The next level is Level II. This is where the Six Ps come in. Get ready for departure. My client parked his car facing the street to minimize departure time. You want your plan to be as efficient as possible.
LEVEL II (2) EVACUATION WARNING or NOTICE: High probability of a need to evacuate.
You should prepare now by packing necessary items and preparing your family, pets, and vehicle for potential departure.
Remember the 6- P’s:
- A plan for the persons in your family (including a meeting place.)
- Personal items (including toiletries, food and water for 2-3 days and special personal possessions.)
- Prescriptions- Have your full, current supply of prescriptions packed.
- Photographs (and other mementos) which cannot be replaced.
- Pets (Have a plan in place and pets secured so frightened pets don’t escape fenced yards or kennels.)
- Papers- Pack all important papers, including reference phone numbers, account numbers, etc.
- Now is the time to move persons with mobility or medical issues.
- If you have livestock or large animals, please move them to a safe place now!
- Please use common sense and evacuate at any time you feel uncomfortable or see active fire behavior.
Level III is time to leave. Don’t wait any longer than you absolutely must. You don’t want to be caught with the stragglers rushing to squeeze out on the highway because you were loitering.
LEVEL III (3) EVACUATION REQUEST or ORDER: Occupants of the affected area(s) are asked to leave within a specified time period, by pre-designated route(s). Perimeter roadblocks are typically established. At this stage:
- You should take your family, pets, and necessary items including medications and important papers and evacuate now if you are in a Level III area.
- Check in with your local Red Cross shelter (even if you don’t intend to stay there)[Ed. Note: find your local Red Cross location by clicking here]. Check in with them and let them know where you will be in case your family is looking for you.
- Drive with your lights on, safely and SLOWLY remaining aware of your surroundings as you leave.
Once you leave your driveway, you should revert to your designated disaster evacuation plan. Hopefully you’ve already setup an evacuation destination and have prepared adequately to reach that point. If not, you need to read my post How Would You Evacuate? Could You?, right now.
E.J. Smith - Your Survival Guy
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