Q: I do not drive, and I am worried about wildfire season. What do I do if I need to evacuate?
A: It is important to think ahead and have a plan in place on how to handle an emergency. I applaud you for wanting to know ahead of time what your options are in case of emergency. While there are some options in place, you may need to consider your own support system and prepare in advance to ensure that you can safety evacuate if needed.
You can start by calling your local Dial A Ride service provider during normal hours. They will do their best to accommodate evacuation orders and assist residents in need. If they are not able to or it is afterhours, call 911.
Calls to 911 that are requesting evacuation in an emergency in Ventura County will be routed to the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) staffed by the Ventura County Office of Emergency Services. Each City also has its own EOC. Emergency personnel will coordinate with the Mass Care & Shelter Branch to address requests for the transportation assistance. This action will trigger needed resources, which may include the use of emergency contracts with transportation companies such as Lyft or Uber.
Additionally, Ventura County has 7 Temporary Evacuation Points (TEPs) throughout the region allowing people to get to a safe place without delay while awaiting the fire controlling efforts and the potential need for longer term sheltering. VCemergency.com lists the locations of the TEPs regionally. Depending on the duration of the incident, the County will request accessible vans to help support getting people to safety. To learn more, visit Disaster Information – Ready Ventura County
In Los Angeles County, if you have no other means to evacuate, it is recommended that you dial 911. Los Angeles County residents who are clients of Adult Protective Services will complete a check in process done by staff during an evacuation order. However, for everyone else, there is no current system in place to check in on you. For this reason, you should contact family or friends who you can trust to check on you in an emergency. Build your own support system if needed, asking a neighbor if they will check on you if they are going to evacuate.
Anyone in need of extra assistance or transportation should stay alert and plan to evacuate early. You can consider any evacuation warning to be an evacuation order and start your plan to find transportation right away, since it will probably take longer than if you had your own vehicle.
Have an evacuation bag ready to go with first aid supplies. Include a list of out of state contact numbers as well as a list of the important items you will need to gather in case of evacuation. By having a written list available it will ensure you do not forget something important. The list should include medications, change of clothing, cash and credit cards, personal care items and important papers including social security card, medical insurance, and ID. Also consider any special need items like hearing aids, glasses, walkers, or pet care items. You can see a complete list with ideas of what to pack at https://www.readyforwildfire.org/prepare-for-wildfire/get-set/emergency-supply-kit/
Any time there is a threat of wildfire your anxiety will run high, causing it to be difficult to think through a decision-making process. Having a plan in place that you only need to follow through on will ensure that you have what you need to stay safe. Take the time now to save yourself the anxiety should the time come later.
Martha Shapiro can be reached at Senior Concerns at 805-497-0189 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org