How to be ready for an emergency evacuation

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Wildfire season is here and it’s time to consider making a go bag for every person and pet in your household because during an evacuation order, things can get hectic.

Cleo Woelfle-Hazard, a fire advisor for Humboldt and Del Norte Counties with the University of California Cooperative Extension, spoke to Redwood News about how to be ready when you’re notified to evacuate.

“One of the things to think about is just what is that experience going to be like? You’re either at home or you’re going back home. The fire’s coming, it’s going to be loud. It’s going to be bright. It might be at night, it’s going to be smoky,” Woelfle-Hazard said. “You might start to panic. You might just be really not thinking clearly.”

But rather than scrambling to throw everything together, be prepared before disaster strikes.

“So the best thing you can do is have all the essential items that you need already pack together in a bag. You could keep that bag in your car, you could keep it by the door,” Woelfle-Hazard said. “You’re also going to want to think about if you have enough time, what can you do to protect your house as best as possible?”

“You want to have food and water for three days and car keys, documents, pet food. If you have pets, first aid kit, toiletries, battery powered radio and extra batteries, change of clothing, glasses, medication, all that stuff,” Woelfle-Hazard said. “You might encounter if you’re in a rural area, roads that are blocked by downed trees or if you have a chainsaw, it’s good to have it with you in case you need it. Having bolt cutters can be useful.”

Flashlights and N-95 masks are also recommended.

“You want to be wearing clothing that’s not flammable. So cotton, wool clothing, you want to have some leather work gloves, leather boots or shoes just so that if you have to walk through fire [area], that you can do that as safely as possible,” Woelfle-Hazard said. “And also a hat that can protect yourself from the heat and something on your neck is helpful. So if you look at, you know, what a wildland firefighter wears, you’re kind of trying to approximate that with the clothes that you have at home.”

It’s better to get a kit together before you need it. To sign up for Humboldt County alerts, click here and click here for Del Norte.