No one wants to even think about it. We can’t imagine. But we must.
In the fourth consecutive year of a severe drought, our beloved community is at great risk for a serious fire. While our public safety and other government agencies are doing a great deal to prepare for such an emergency, something else is vitally needed: you.
One important part of the community’s preparation for wildfire is what we do before the fire, in our own homes. The first thing is to create our “go-bags,” one for each member of our households and for our pets.
What is a go-bag? It’s a portable, lightweight bag you can grab and take with you when you evacuate, designed to provide you with whatever you’ll initially need, whether you’re in a shelter, a friend’s home or a motel.
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Cambrians Ken Persinger and his wife, Kathy, always have their go-bags ready right by their door. Ken’s is a black zippered duffle-type bag. In it you’ll find his prescription medications, solar charger, hat and sunscreen, hearing aid batteries, a N-95 respirator mask (in case of smoke), nutrition bars, tea bags he particularly likes, his passport, vaccination and key medical records, extra glasses, a change of clothes for a few days, Advil, foam eye covers and ear plugs, and a headlamp, among other things.
He also has a fanny pack with checkbooks, an address book and a few hundred dollars. Nearby he keeps ready a plastic file box with important papers, such as recent tax information, insurance policies, personal identification, banking information and other personal papers. The paperwork is especially handy if your home should be destroyed or damaged, he says.
On top of the bag he keeps a checklist to remind him, in case of evacuation, to gather a handful of everyday items from around his house, such as his laptop. (Because they’re used so routinely, certain items can’t conveniently be kept in a go-bag).
Ken and Kathy also have made preparations for their dog, Simon. He has a chip and a collar tag that will help reconnect him with the Persingers if he should get lost. There’s also a leash right on top of Ken’s go-bag, and plenty of dog food and extra water in the trunk of the car.
Ken says having a go-bag helps make his life easier, because it’s always ready to go.
“When we practice evacuation, I know where my bag is and that it is current. Any time I have to leave in a hurry, I have it.”
If you want to test your system, have a friend call you sometime in the next couple of weeks, perhaps when you least expect it, to announce that you must evacuate within five minutes. Take the challenge seriously and see what you learn you need and what you do. Leave the house. See what you’ve taken with you. Figure out what you need to add to your bag.
In addition to making sure you’ll have whatever you need if you must leave quickly, having a go-bag ready could save your life. It helps ensure you’ll leave your house quickly, calmly and safely.