Be Ready to Evacuate

evacuation car house

Assemble your go-kit before a wildfire or other disaster occurs and keep it easily accessible so you can take it with you when you have to evacuate. Plan to be away from your home for an extended period. Each person in your household should have a readily accessible go-kit and keep a spare for visitors. Backpacks work great for storing these items and are easy to carry when you leave. Keep it light enough to be able to carry on foot, if needed.

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Go-Kit Checklist

  • A sturdy pair of shoes (preferably boots) and a spare flashlight near your bed and handy in case of a sudden evacuation at night
  • Long sleeve shirt, long pants, cotton (all should be cotton or wool, bright colors are best)
  • Leather work gloves
  • Full coverage goggles
  • Respirator (N95, available at most hardware stores)
  • Map marked with at least two evacuation routes (if possible)
  • Prescription medication (ask your doctor for a multi-day emergency supply, rotate annually)
  • Water bottle
  • A small supply of energy food
  • Spare battery and charger for cell phone
  • Extra eyeglasses or contact lenses
  • An extra set of car keys, credit cards, cash or traveler’s checks
  • First aid kit (compact)
  • Headlamp
  • Flashlight (handheld)
  • Battery-powered radio
  • Spare batteries for flashlights, headlamp, and radio
  • Sanitation supplies (toilet paper, feminine hygiene, baby wipes/diapers, etc.)
  • Copies of important documents (birth certificates, passports, etc.)
  • Pet supplies: carriers for each pet, leashes, food and water

Things to Take if Time Allows

  • Easily carried valuables
  • Three-day supply of non-perishable food and three gallons of water per person
  • Family photos and other small, irreplaceable items
  • Personal computer information on hard drives and disks (off-site or cloud/online backup is best)
  • Spare chargers for cell phones, laptops, etc.

Dress For Survival Checklist

When preparing to evacuate, dress yourself and your family in clothes that will shield you from heat, embers, and flames. Natural fabrics, such as heavy denim or pure wool are better than synthetics, no matter how hot it is. Keep these items near your go-kit during fire season, and keep a set near your bed before laying down during a Red Flag Warning. Put these clothes on at the first sign of trouble. If you can smell or see smoke, it’s time to prepare.

  • Sturdy leather boots with Vibram-lug soles
  • Full-coverage goggles
  • Leather work gloves
  • Long pants (wool or cotton) with a sturdy belt
  • Long-sleeved shirt that covers neck (tuck into pants)
  • Floppy cotton hat
  • Handkerchief or bandana to cover face
  • Wool socks

 

The Evacuation Order

  1. The fire incident commander will issue the evacuation order through the Sheriff’s Office and will determine the areas to be evacuated and escape routes to use depending on the fire’s location, behavior, winds, terrain, etc.
  2. Law enforcement agencies are responsible for enforcing an evacuation order. Follow their directions promptly.
  3. You must take the initiative to stay informed and aware. Listen to your radio (AM 1400, AM 710, and others) and TV for announcements from law enforcement and emergency personnel.
  4. You may be directed to temporary assembly areas to await transfer to a safe location.

Evacuation Terminology

The terms “voluntary” and “mandatory” are often incorrectly used to describe evacuations. In Marin, fire agencies and law enforcement will use the terms “Evacuation Order,” “Evacuation Warning,” and “Shelter In Place” to alert you to the significance of the danger and provide basic instructions. All evacuation instructions provided by officials should be followed immediately for your safety.

  • Evacuation Order: Leave now! Evacuate immediately, do not delay to gather belongings or prepare your home. Follow any directions provided in the evacuation order.
  • Evacuation Warning: Evacuate as soon as possible. A short delay to gather valuables and prepare your home may be OK. Leave if you feel unsafe.
  • Shelter in Place: Stay in your current location, the safest nearby building, or the safest unburnable area. Most often issued when evacuation isn’t necessary and quick fire department access is required, but in some cases may be issued if evacuation is too dangerous.