Woody Henderson

They say each part of the country hosts its own type of natural disaster — hurricanes, tornados, floods, snow, heat, earthquakes, etc.  Lucky for us, exposure to beautiful scenery is not dangerous. However, the occasional forest fire disturbs our peace. We’ve talked about abatement, our amazing public safety agencies and how they manage our evacuations and put out fires. Our job is to simply be prepared.  
On boats we call it a “ditch kit.” If we find ourselves suddenly sinking (for various reasons) and in need of boarding the life raft, we want to take a duffel of stuff that will best help us survive until we are rescued. Part of being prepared for a fire evacuation is assembling an appropriate emergency supply kit.  
It is best to do this before we need it. Store the kit in an easily accessible place and make sure family members know where it is located. Plan to be away for multiple days. Each family member should add a small backpack of personal items.
Nonperishable food can be stored in a box or chest that family members can lift into a vehicle. If it has wheels, even better (I’m talking about the water and food containers. The vehicle should have wheels, too).  Evacuations can occur at night, so keep a sturdy pair of shoes and a flashlight by your bed.  

Emergency Supply Kit Tips
• Enough food and water to get you off the hill, and then some. Note: you may be asked to shelter in a safe place for hours before you have traveled all the way down the hill.
• Keep a map marked with potential routes off the hill. Always follow officer instructions and signs during evacuations.
• Chargers for cell phones, laptops, etc.
• Prescriptions or special medications, eyeglasses and contact lenses
• An extra set of car keys, credit cards and cash
• Change of clothing
• First aid kit
• Flashlight
• Your bathroom kit and a roll of toilet paper
• Battery-powered radio and extra batteries. A car radio preset tuned to WNKI-AM 1610
• Copies of your home insurance and other important documents (birth certificates, passports, etc.)
• Whistle to signal for help
• Fire extinguisher (One should always be in your car.)
• Necessities for infant(s), if applicable
• Don’t forget pet food and water (and your pet)

A small fire safe can be grabbed quickly if time allows. That can hold the following items:
• Smaller, high value items
• Family photos and irreplaceable items
• Thumb drive or hard drive with important files

A more extensive emergency supply kit includes:
• Dust mask for each person, N95 or better, for driving through smoke
• Personal water bottles, plates, utensils and paper towels
• Water filter or purification tablets to disinfect water
• Matches in a waterproof container and a knife
• Paper and pencil
• Books, games, puzzles or other activities
• Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person if weathering in a camp or shelter
If you host short-term renters, post a sheet with evacuation tips.
A comprehensive guide to wildfire preparedness can be found at Readyforwildfire.org/prepare-for-wildfire