California is burning during a pandemic! Many people have had to evacuate their homes with some advanced notice. Others had to flee with only the clothes they were wearing. Fires spread quickly and unpredictably. Preparing for fire season is stressful without a pandemic, now we have two troubling events occurring at the same time. After reading many articles about the wildfires, I wondered how I could prepare for an evacuation. After some research, this is what I came up with.
- Consider your situation. Do you take medications? Do you use a wheelchair? Do you use a ventilator? Would you need help evacuating? Do you need corrective lenses to see? Do you live in a city or in a remote place? Can you stay with someone if you need to leave your home?
- Track the fires. Download a fire map for your phone or visit websites with fire trackers. I’ll include links below.
- Pack your bags. What to pack: medications, corrective lenses, feminine care products, water, snacks, cell phone and other electronics, oral hygiene products, first aid kit, small towel, sun protection products, personal items you wouldn’t want to leave behind (make sure they’re portable), and anything else you might need.
- Don’t forget, COVId-19 is still around. Make sure that you pack face masks, hand sanitizer, a small bottle of soap (if you have room).
- Charge your electronics. Your cell phone could be your lifeline. Make sure it’s charged. Bring a charged back-up battery, if you have one. Make sure you conserve your battery life for as long as you can. Don’t drain it.
- Write down important numbers and addresses. Creating a back-up in case your phone malfunctions or your battery dies is essential.
- Mentally prepare. Fires are unpredictable, and it’s difficult to know what state your housing will be in when evacuation orders are lifted. You may return to ashes or something unsafe to reside in. Evacuations are sometimes precautions, and everything will be fine when orders are lifted. But, sometimes, they’re a matter of life and death.
The list above isn’t comprehensive, but it’s meant to be a quick guide to get you thinking about what you would do in case of an evacuation. Here are some resources that may help you with your evacuation planning:
CAL FIRE website: find information about incidents, resources, fire safety information, evacuation tips.
SF Chronicle California Fire Map & Tracker: an interactive map that shows active fires.
CAL FIRE Prepare for a Wildfire Guide: a detailed list of what you should do to prepare for an evacuation.
Also, try downloading a fire tracking map to your phone. I found the one I’m using by Googling “live wildfire map California.” I clicked on the map by CAL FIRE. Now, every time I open my maps app, I can see the status of the fires.
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