ach year, California has wildfires that attract national and sometimes even international media attention. The various media channels like to talk about what might have caused the wildfire, how big it’s gotten, and how teams are desperately working to fight it, as someone who lives in California, you’re first priority is doing everything possible to keep yourself and your loved ones safe during this year’s wildfire season.
Don’t wait until you can hear the roar of the wildfire bearing down on you to start preparing. Wildfires spread quickly and they can also start quickly. Don’t wait until you’re in a high-risk area to start preparing for a wildfire. As soon as you move to California, you need to create start preparing for the possibility of a fire.
Early California fire preparations include:
- Turning your property into a defensible space
- Having an evacuation plan in place
- Keeping your vehicle prepped in case you have to evacuate
- Having a bag packed with life essentials in case you need to evacuate
- Making sure your personal property is covered by property insurance
Creating a Defensible Space
You want to surround your property with a defensible space. This space serves as a buffer between an approaching fire and your home. The space shouldn’t have any items or vegetation that’s likely to burn. The defensible space should extend at 30 feet past your house.
Packing Evacuation Supplies
You don’t have enough room in your car for all of your personal belongings. Limit what you need to one bag per person. Most of the time you can keep his bag in your closet, but if it looks like there is a chance that you’ll have to evacuate, stow the emergency fire bag in your car. Fire moves quickly so each second you save is important.
Items you should have in your emergency fire evacuation bag include:
- A change of clothing
- Cash/credit cards
- An extra charger for your cell phone
- The contact information for your insurance company
- A first aid kit
- Any medication you take
- A flashlight
Keep Tabs on your Neighbors
Fire doesn’t care who it hurts. It’s up to you to keep in touch with your neighbors and make sure that they’re able to protect themselves from a wildfire. Whenever possible, offer to help them evacuate. Taking a few seconds to contact your neighbor’s emergency contacts, or helping load up their car can help save lives.
Prepare your Pets
You can’t afford to forget about your pets during an emergency fire evacuation. They can’t fend for themselves. You should also be prepared for even the most docile pet to become stressed as you evacuate. They might not understand exactly what is going on, but they do know that a fire is approaching and that you’re stressed.
Lock your pets in a different part of the house while you prepare to evacuate. This prevents them from bolting out the door and getting lost while you’re packing up your vehicle. When you’re ready to load your pets in the car keep them leashed or in a carrier. Don’t assume they will just follow you. Each time you stop the car for gas, make sure your pets are restrained before you get out of your car.
It’s a good idea to get your pet micro-chipped and to write its name and your phone number on their collar before you evacuate.
Before you drive away from your home, take a couple of seconds to double-check that all people and pets are loaded in your car.
Even though it’s hard to stay calm when you’re evacuating, you really need to. The calmer you can keep yourself in this situation, the smoother the evacuation will go.