What can you do to protect your family and home from wildfires?
If you are a resident of fire-prone southern California, you probably already know to:
- Ensure your roof is fireproof
- Install smoke alarms
- Water the lawn
Unfortunately, many people miss the most important action anyone can take to protect their family: creating a Fire Emergency Evacuation Plan (FEEP). However, in the event of a wildfire, having an evacuation plan that informs your household of where to go and what to do should be a staple in every southern California home.
Fire Emergency Evacuation Plan Basics
A Fire Emergency Evacuation Plan helps reduce the risk and confusion involved in an emergency and can even save the lives of you and your loved ones. It is important to cater the specific aspects of the plan to the needs of your family and property. At the very least, your personal FEEP should detail what to do the instant you are aware of a fire.
Other common elements of a Fire Emergency Evacuation Plan are:
- Designate an emergency meeting place outside the home or hazard area, such as a nearby public school, fire or police station.
- Have several ways to get away from your home when a fire threatens the area. Mark several pre-planned routes so you have options to assess and choose the safest one. Use the Caltrans website to check road conditions of any state highway.
- Create a Family Communication Plan in which everyone calls, texts or emails a single family member living out of the area. If you should lose contact with your family members, that individual can reach out to everyone in your family when phone lines and cell towers may be down or limited and serve as coordinator.
- Teach everyone where the emergency shut-off controls are for gas, electricity and water. Ensure everyone knows how to shut everything off so the work can be divided to save time when it matters most.
- Practice the Fire Evacuation Plan until everyone knows what to do.
It’s also a good idea to have a family Emergency Evacuation kit and ideally, one for each family member.
Creating a Family Emergency Evacuation Kit
Cal Fire and other fire safety organizations recommend having a family Emergency Evacuation Kit. It should contain what CalFire refers to as the “Six P’s” of fire safety:
- People and pets
- Papers, phone numbers and important documents such as insurance policies, special health information, etc.
- Prescriptions, vitamins and eyeglasses or contact lenses
- Pictures and other irreplaceable items
- Personal computer files backed up on thumb or flash drives
- Plastic credit and debit cards plus some cash
If you may end up in a community shelter, protect your family from communicable diseases by following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.
Each person should also have a pre-packed emergency evacuation kit of their own in an easily accessible spot, such as a front hall closet or place in the garage.
Make Individual Emergency Kits
In addition to the collective family supplies, each person’s kit should include:
- Face masks or coverings
- Three days of non-perishable food plus three gallons of water
- A paper map with at least two marked evacuation routes
- Any medications, drugs or vitamins that person needs
- A change of clothing
- A first aid kit
- A small flashlight
- Sanitation supplies such as toilet paper and toothpaste
- Chargers for cellphones, laptops and tablets
- Important personal papers in a sealable plastic bag
Having clothing ready to go near each bed, especially including a sturdy pair of shoes, is also a good idea during fire season. Remember: Every second counts when evacuation orders are issued.
Have an Emergency Kit for Your Pets
Now that every person knows what to do, where to go and has enough supplies to last several days, what about your pets?
Start by having an emergency kit for them located in the garage or someplace where anyone in the family can grab it on your way out the door.
The Humane Society suggests your Emergency Pet Kit should have:
- One week’s worth of food
- A gallon of water
- A sealable bag holding printed copies of each animal’s medical and vaccine records with your vet’s contact information plus feeding schedules
- A printed photo of each pet’s face to use if they become separated
- A crate or carrier with bed you can use to move them. It should be large enough for them to sleep in. Also, bring a favorite toy or blanket for comfort
- Any medications or special drugs
- Spare leash plus collar with ID tag engraved with the pet’s name and your contact information
- Poop bags for dogs or a litter box, litter and scoop for cats
Having your pets microchipped is a wise suggestion for all pet owners in the event that they become separated from you and your family.
Okay, you’ve got everyone and their emergency kits loaded into the car, truck or SUV. What do you do next?
At this point, it’s crucial that you get informed on the cause of the evacuation and how authorities advise that you should proceed. Several important information sources are available through your cell phone:
- CalFire has its Ready for Wildfire website. You can sign up for text messages on local wildfires.
- The Federal Emergency Management Agency has apps for Android and Apple devices providing real-time alerts and safety tips in English and Spanish.
- Check state highway road conditions through the Caltrans website.
- The American Red Cross has a first aid app for Android and Apple devices.
However, in the event that cell reception is unavailable, it is important that you know which radio stations to turn to in order to receive updated information. Find your local emergency broadcast channels and include this information as part of your FEEP.
Protect Your Home With Green Leaf Zone
Every homeowner or property owner dreads being told they need to evacuate immediately. At that point, saving your property is up to the professional firefighters. However, there are crucial ways in which you can make it more difficult for fire to spread through your outdoor space and reduce the impact a wildfire has on your property.
At Green Leaf Zone, we can get your property as prepared as possible for the California wildfire season. Our team provides tree removal and brush clearing services throughout the Los Angeles area. For more info, contact us at (818) 452-3470 or email us at [email protected].
You can also fill out our form for a free consultation.