San Diego Spotlight

Prepare a Wildfire Evacuation Plan and Kit or “Go Bag”

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Santa Ana winds are blowing 60 mph and you can see columns of smoke on the horizon. Estimated the wind direction? Towards your house, fast. The 2017 Sonama and Napa fire winds were clocked at more than 79 miles per hour. So fast, in fact, that hospital personnel had to evacuate some patients in their personal cars, and there are iconic videos of medical personnel moving fast down the street with patients in hospital beds, on oxygen, IVs still hanging, with fire burning white-hot in the background. “The wind can move a wildfire fire forward like a freight train,” says Assistant Fire Chief and Foundation Boardmember Sue Raimond. “In addition to the Santa Ana winds, the fire makes its own weather, which is why you see phenomena like fire tornados.”

Medical personnel evacuate patients during 2017 wildfire

A frightening video of wildfire evacuation of a hospital in Northern California captured by ABC News.

Family Wildfire Evacuation Plan
  • Designate an emergency meeting location outside the fire area. Stress the importance of everyone going to that location, so that all can be accounted for.
  • Identify several different escape routes from your home and community.
  • Where are you going to put your animals? Is your animal carrier ready?
  • You may not get the emergency evacuation call: Cell phones may have burned and power may be out. This was an issue in the 2017 Napa fires.
  • Designate an out-of-area friend or relative as the point of contact for family members and make sure everyone has their phone number. In case of emergency, it may be easier to get a message through outside the area – local communications may be jammed by people trying to contact each other.
  • Close your doors when you leave, but don’t lock them – this allows firefighters to enteter the house if necessary.
Emergency Kit or Go Bag
  • Have a portable radio or scanner and plenty of batteries to stay updated on the fire – phones and TVs may not work.
  • Emergency contact numbers.
  • Extra emergency kit in car – in case fire cuts you off from your home.Go Bad with Teddy Bear
  • Cash – credit cards may not work due to lack of electricity -a minimum of $200 in denominations less than $20.
  • One gallon of water per person and per pet per day.
  • Three days of nonperishable food and one week’s supply of any special foods needed for medical purposes or for children.
  • Paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, paper towels, can opener.
  • One week + supply of medications.
  • First aid kit.
  • Plastic bags, garbage bags.
  • Flashlight.
  • Blankets.
  • Extra clothes, comfortable shoes, hat, sunscreen.
  • Pocket knife.
  • Personal hygiene items, e.g. women’s products, toilet paper.
  • Fire Extinguisher.
  • Face mask for each member of family.
  • Tools to turn off gas and water – If you have time, turn off gas, electricity and water.
  • Flashlights
  • Cell Phone Charger
  • Glasses, sun glasses, hearing aids
  • Matches in a water proof container
  • Books or games.
  • Local maps.
  • Paper and pen.
  • Important papers:
    • Copy of your passport or driver’s license
    • Children’s birth certificates
    • Marriage or divorce papers
    • Insurance information
    • Titles for any property you own
    • Tax information
    • Pictures