Even though the May Ray wildfire burned at the opposite end of our valley, it promped our family to discuss evacuation plans should an emergency befall us.
Evacuate or Stay?
First of all, should we stay and defend our property and livestock or evcuate. There is a vacant lot next to ours which is covered with volatile desert brush. It would produce high heat and embers that could spread to our lot.
Most of our lot is either landscaped with lawns or bare, gravelled or sandy soils. The shop is steel construction while other outbuildings are wood frame. A long row of elms lines the edge of the vacant lot.
We could defend against a few embers by leaving the sprinklers turned on and hosing down the building roofs; but a major firestorm could sweep across our acre in no time, destroying everything.
We decided to evacuate, no matter what kind of fire closed in, but we would leave the sprinklers on and turn off the gas. The turnkey hangs upon the gas main pipe next to the valve so it’s easy to find.
We have chickens and a couple of dogs. Soon, we would have our horse joining the menagerie. Evacuating pets is easy. Load them in the car with food, bowls, water, and carriers.
Catching chickens would waste precious time. We decided to leave food and water in the chicken pen and leave the door ajar for them to escape. We knew we’d probably lose them, but we wanted to give them a chance to flee if possible.
Doing that with a horse would be insane. We need to find a neighbor or friend to help us move the horse to safety.
Although we’ve live in this neighborhood a short time, we’ve met our immediate neighbors. In case of fire, we’ll need to check in with them, not only to coordinate evacuation plans, but to make sure everyone has transportation out of the area. It appears that all the neighbors are ambulatory, but we need to get better acquainted so we can help elderly or disabled neighbors evacuate.
We decided if evacuation is necessary, to call each other first. If that doesn’t work, we would meet at the mini-mart near our house. If that location is inundated with other evacuees, we chose a secondary meeting place.
Bugout Bags and RVs
Our “bugout bags” are at hand so we can grab them and go. (Check out this link for further information. )
Besides our bugout bags, we have an RV and camping gear. We need to check the equipment and RV to make sure it’s ready to go in an instant. If an emergency comes, we may only have minutes to react.
Important Papers, Keepsakes:
We’ve got all our important papers, such as financial documents, insurance policies, titles and deeds, etc., in a special zippered holder where we can grab it quickly. We’ve got a fireproof safe, but sometimes safes aren’t as fireproof as they are touted to be.
Plus, if we can’t get home for awhile, we’ll need those papers to prove who we are and what we own. We’ve also set aside a wallet of cash.
I’ve made it a point to scrapbook family photos and keep them in one place where I can grab them on the way to the car. Those can’t be replaced. Also, there may not be time or space to evacuate with computers.
We doubt we’ll have time to pack clothes and stow precious items where they won’t be lost in a fire. That’s tricky decision anyway.
We heard of one couple who stowed their silk Oriental carpets in a steel outbuilding on their mountain property during a wildfire. When they returned, they discovered the heat in the building rose so high, it baked their carpets to ash.
Firefighters focus on saving homes first, then outbuildings. One victim of the May Ray fire lost all his outbuildings, including a guest house, while his residence was saved. It’s more prudent to leave the house and furnishings behind, because the firefighters will do their best to save the house.
As our planet challenges use with earthquakes, wildfires, floods, and big storms, emergencies will effect us more frequently. Instead of bemoaning these possibilities, think ahead about what you will need to do in your particular circumstances. Make sure every member of your family is engaged in this discussion and takes responsibility for their part.
While the government promises to help with a few days, and first responders do a magnificent job of saving people’s lives and property, we can make their jobs easier by taking responsibility for our own safety and welfare.
Disasters often last several weeks or months. Plan for that part of the recovery as well. What we can do for ourselves means that responders can take care of themselves and others.