The west coast of the United States is engulfed with flames. California is facing one of its worst wildfire seasons to date, there are 500,000 acres burned in Washington so far, and 10% of Oregon has been evacuated. As a result, it’s time to start thinking about what to do in case of an evacuation near you.
When an evacuation happens, you don’t want to be caught just starting to pack things up. It’s best to already have a bag packed and be able to head out the door immediately. It also helps in making sure that you won’t forget anything important.
To be ready in a moment’s notice, here is a list of things to pack when preparing for an evacuation:
1. Important documents
Have your driver’s license, passport, and birth certificate in a safe compartment in your bag. Also have your insurance cards, such as health and car insurance, readily available.
2. Credit cards and rainy day funds
Bring all your credit cards and stashes of money you have hidden around the house. It’s best to have funds when you don’t know what might happen during an evacuation.
3. A variety of clothes
Pack clothes for any weather condition. Also, pack for more than just a couple of days. While often evacuations will only last a few days, sometimes it can take upwards of weeks before you’re allowed to return. Bring a variety of shoes as well.
Now, I’m not saying that you should pack your whole closet, but it’s better to have more than not enough. Try to maintain the mindset of if I can’t carry it in two trips or less, I should leave it. It’s more important to get you and your loved ones to safety than worry about material items that you’ll be able to replace and sort out later.
Since you won’t know how long you’ll be gone for, it’s probably a good idea to bring all the essential toiletries like shampoo, soap, toothbrush, etc. Double up if you can.
If you have special medication you take, now is not the time to forget those. It’s important to maintain some sort of normalcy, and not being able to take your prescription meds shouldn’t be one of your concerns at this time.
It’s extremely important to pack bottled water. Have a gallon or two already in your car, but bring more when the time to hit the road comes.
Bring nonperishable snacks. Having extra snacks and meals on hand will help you a lot. It’s also a good idea to bring a cooler and have some drinks and other food as backup.
Don’t forget your masks. It’s hard to grasp onto the fact that not only are we dealing with wildfires, but we are also still living through a pandemic. Now more than ever is the time to stay protected and wear your mask. Remember: The smoke is very hazardous and dangerous when constantly inhaled.
9. Precious memorabilia
This should be the last thing you think of. After packing all the above, if you have space in your bag, now would be when you can make room for priceless items. Put in priority things you could never possibly get back. Things that would break your heart if it got engulfed in flames.
Bring some card games. You don’t know how long you’ll have to keep yourself occupied and who knows if you’ll have power while braving this storm. Personally, Uno is my go to. What’s a game you could play for hours without getting bored? It also never hurts to bring a book or two.
Those are some of the most important things to bring in your escape kit. A couple more items I decided to throw into my own bag were a couple rolls of toilet paper, batteries, flashlights, and a first aid kit — especially if you don’t have a destination to evacuate to.
A good idea is to take a photo of what you have in your house. That way, if something does happen to your possessions, you’ll already be steps ahead and able to repurchase those items. Even better if you have renters or homeowners insurance. That way you have documented proof of what was lost during the fire.
Most importantly, keep informed on what areas are being evacuated and what level your county is at. Keep your loved ones up to date on the latest news and above all make sure your community is coming together in such an awful time. Do whatever you can to help others. Stay safe out there.