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Across this country, tens of thousands of people have been told to leave their homes for safety due to wildfires. With flames often just a mile or two away, some families have had to leave so quickly there was no time to grab or prepare much.

Fast-moving wildfires on the west coast have been turning the landscape to ash leaving some homeowners with nothing but memories. The smoke is so encompassing, it can be seen on satellite images blanketing the west coasts states.

Every effort is being made by firefighters and safety personnel to contain the fires and save homes. Non-profit groups like the Firefighters Burn Institute are also on hand to help those who suffer burns by providing treatment and recovery programs.

You also can take the time to prepare your family in case this happens close to you.

Create an Evacuation Plan

Planning is vital to ensuring that you can evacuate safely and quickly no matter what situation arises. Whether it is a wildfire, flood or chemical spill, you need to plan how you will leave and where you will go if evacuating your home is advised.

  1. Identify a few places that you will go, in the event you must evacuate. This could be a friend or family member’s home in another city, a hotel, or other place. Consider if you are also bringing pets and ensure the place you go will accept them. Most public shelters will only allow service animals. Be familiar with the route you will take and other optional routes if the need arises.
  2. Have a communication plan in the event you become separated. This can include an out-of-state contact person, having two-way radios, and a predesignated place to meet.
  3. Assemble an emergency survival “to-go” bag that you can grab and carry out when you evacuate. Using a backpack is a great option as you can carry it easier on foot or when using public transportation. A larger more comprehensive kit can be kept in your vehicle. This would include things like water, non-perishable food, battery-powered radio, multi-purpose tool, emergency contact information, first aid kit, emergency blanket, whistle, N95 masks, work gloves and extra clothing. For ideas of what to keep in your survival kit, check out this Red Cross list.

For more information on planning your evacuation, visit the evacuation page.

Make an Evacuation List

If you only have a few minutes to leave your home for safety, you may not remember what is most important to take with you and where it is located. This is why a pre-made evacuation list be vital in grabbing what you need in time to leave. This list should be in segments of time. What to grab if you only have 5 minutes or less to leave, or 15 minutes to leave and on up to 1 or 2 hours. You will want to include what to grab and where it is.

Preparing these items beforehand and keeping them in a designated spot will make an evacuation much easier and proficient.  For example, your evacuation list may look like this:

Emergency Evacuation List

Individuals with disabilities and seniors will need special consideration when you are planning your evacuation. Be sure and include items they may need like hearing aid, walker, wheelchair and other medical items they would need to have with them when evacuating.

Although we hope it never happens to you, planning beforehand can help you evacuate your home with less stress and panic during a time of crisis.