Wildfire Evacuation: Go Early
We wish to acknowledge FEMA, the American Red Cross, the Kern and Los Angeles County Fire Departments for the information in this post.
Let’s talk about a safe evacuation in the event of wildfire. The first rule is, GO EARLY! By leaving early, you will give yourself and your family the best chance of surviving. You also help firefighters and other first responders by keeping roads clear of congestion which allows them to do their jobs without having to worry about you.
Leaving early helps you avoid being caught in fire, smoke, or road congestion. Don’t wait to be told by authorities to leave. In an intense wildfire, they might not have time to knock on every door. If you are advised to leave, don’t hesitate.
Grab a copy of your evacuation plan and follow the action steps. When putting your Go Bag together, remember the six “P’s” that you should have together or easily accessible before you need to evacuate.
- People and pets ( for pets, copies of their license and shot records, any meds they take, and food and water)
- Papers, phone numbers, and important documents
- Prescriptions, vitamins, and eyeglasses (and other necessary medical equipment)
- Pictures and irreplaceable memorabilia
- Personal computers – put your information on hard drives and/or disks
- “Plastic” (credit cards, ATM cards) and cash
Also, don’t forget your purse or wallet.
Prior to leaving your home, if you have the time (which is why it’s important to leave early), take the following steps:
Before the Fire Approaches Your House
Evacuate your pets and all family members. Anyone with medical or physical limitations and the young and the elderly should be evacuated early.
Wear Protective Clothing: sturdy shoes, cotton or woolen clothing, long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, gloves, and a handkerchief to protect your face.
Remove Combustibles: Clear items that will burn from around the house, including wood piles, lawn furniture, barbecue grills, tarp coverings, etc. Move them outside of your defensible space.
Close/Protect Openings: Close outside attic, eaves and basement vents, windows, doors, pet doors, etc. Remove flammable drapes and curtains. Close all shutters, blinds or heavy non-combustible window coverings to reduce radiant heat. Close inside doors and open fireplace damper.
Turn on the lights, both inside and outside your house to make it visible through heavy smoke.
Place a ladder against the house in clear view.
Where to Go
Your evacuation plan should identify potential safe locations where you can go. It should be a low-risk area, such as a relative’s house, the Red Cross evacuation shelter, or other safe place designated by authorities. You might even go to a motel.
How To Get There
Have several routes identified in case one is blocked by the fire or by emergency vehicles and equipment. Choose a route that leads away from the fire. Watch for changes in the speed and direction of fire and smoke, monitor the news on the radio in your car or find an internet site, such as https://www.broadcastify.com/, that you get on your phone or tablet. Notify someone when you left and where you are going.
When re-entry is permitted following an evacuation, it is typically limited to residents of the area. In order to gain re-entry, you must provide law enforcement with proof of residency for security purposes. Proof of residency may be in the form of a government issued I.D. such as a driver’s license, utility bill or other documentation indicating the resident’s name and address.
You can find more information at kerncountyfire.org. There are other sites as well such as FEMA and The American Red Cross where you can find information, including helpful check lists that will help you prepare.
Be smart, stay safe, go early!