What to take/leave behind when get evacuation warning

By Catherine Haug, August 20, 2015

This information is based on an article in today’s Daily Interlake, by Samuel Wilson.

In light of the pre-evacuation order issued to residents in the Essex area along Highway 2, Ted Pettis, a fire information officer for the Thompson-Divide Complex fires, offers the following advice should you receive such an order. “Focus on the Five P’s – People, Pets, Pills, Photos, and important Papers.”

For more detail and additional things to consider, click the ‘more’ link, below. Here are links for additional fireproofing tips and other preparedness information:

Preparing for evacuation

This list, from Ted Pettis, applies if you have been given a pre-evacuation order which provides enough time to do all these things [my added notes are in brackets].

If you don’t have enough time, determine which are the most important for you and tackle those first. For me, this would include (most important first) my pets, passport and other ID, photos and heirlooms, sturdy clothing, my laptop and backup drive, enough cash for at least 2 weeks, and medications.

  • Get together your medications, [refilling as necessary to ensure you have enough to last through the evacuation];
  • Decide which photos, antiques, [art], and family heirlooms (including jewelry) you want to save; “stuff that has memories attached, that you can’t replace.”
  • Gather sturdy clothing and shoes
  • Make arrangements for a place to stay; [if you have pets, make sure you can bring your pets and if not, arrange for a place for your pets to stay];
  • Move livestock;
  • Get sick or elderly people out of the home ahead of time;
  • [Talk to young children, and have a plan on how to re-unite if separated[;
  • If you have natural gas [or propane], [make sure you know how to turn it off and have an appropriate tool for that task], and then shut it off before leaving, so that a bad fire doesn’t accidentally become worse.

Things to leave behind:

  • Appliances (except small ones of heirloom value)
  • Most of your clothing
  • TVs
  • Furniture

Additionally, there are things you can do to help limit the likelihood of your structure becoming a casualty of the blaze:

  • Homeowners can set up hoses and sprinklers around the property (when the firefighters arrive, they will notice these, and turn them on);
  • Remove brush and flammable materials from around the house. This includes thinning brush that have overgrown and gotten too thick;
  • Make sure fallen leaves and debris aren’t wedged into cracks and crevices along the roof where they could be ignited by a flying spark;
  • Clean out your gutters of flammable materials.

About Hoses and sprinklers:

Many of us have underground sprinkler systems. Mine is divided into regions, and only one region is on at a time. I’m wondering: is there a way to turn them all on at the same time (as opposed to setting up hoses and sprinklers). Does anyone know the answer to this? If I find an answer, I’ll update this text accordingly.

If your yard is large, you may not have enough water pressure to have the entire area covered with spraying water at the same time. In this case, determine which areas are the most important to cover – the ones closest to your house.

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