After the recent wildfires ripped through our community, I mentioned to my husband that I didn’t want to let too much time go by before we debriefed on what we did right and wrong when we evacuated.
I wanted this natural disaster— the first my husband and I have really experienced since moving to California 25 years ago—to become a teachable moment for us.
I began by creating a list of things I would take if we were evacuated again. I didn’t do too badly during the recent fires. I was able to function reasonably well in the 48 hours I was away from home, but then again, I had the safety and convenience of being in a hotel.
That may not always be the case, so there are several things I will include next time.
I bought a four-person emergency survival kit that provides the core things I may need in one wellpacked kit. It includes food, water, first aid, communication devices, lighting, sanitation needs and more. I know I would never get around to buying all the things I need one by one, so this prepacked kit is a good solution for me. It gives me some peace of mind.
I created an emergency kit for the dog: shelf-stable dog food, water, medicines, leash, bowls, waste bags, etc.
Next, since we live in Ventura County, I registered with VCalert.org to get emergency notices when there’s a threat to the health or safety of residents. I registered my address, my home phone and my cellphone.
My husband and I live off a road that only has one way in and out. If we ever move, we thought, we should consider how many alternate routes are available to get in and out of our neighborhood. But for now, we know which paths we can take to get to safety depending on where that safety may be.
While it may offer little help with wildfires, I checked the fire extinguishers we have in the house. They were small and old, and I decided to order two new state-of-the-art ones for our upstairs and downstairs.
I used readyforwildfire.org to create a pre-evacuation checklist if we must leave our house because of an emergency.
I read that, in some instances, firefighters were searching for garden hoses to help put out some flames. I’ve made sure each outside spigot has a hose attached to it.
I will soon be visiting my local firehouse to ask about a swimming pool fire pump and hose system. This is an investment of anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000, so if we opt to purchase this, I want to make sure it will be the kind the firefighters are willing to use.
On the prevention side, I’m looking for someone who would record a video of me going through the house documenting things. I would then put that video on a flash drive and into the fireproof box that’s the first thing we take in the event of an emergency.
My husband plans to review our insurance coverage too. For example, do they know we remodeled our kitchen, and have we added my husband’s new watch to our list of personal property?
It was a very stressful time during the wildfires, and I feel better knowing that, in this time of calm, I used what I learned and have prepared for the future.