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Wildfire Wednesday: Document Everything! – Part 4

This is the fourth in a series of articles SNO will be doing called “Wildfire Wednesday.” To begin, there will be 8 articles presenting “The 12 Step Guide to Help Plan in Advance for Evacuation.” This guide was put together by Katie Hepler and the members of the California Fire Support Group on Facebook. The California Fire Support Group is “intended to allow collaboration between those who have been through the fire and recovery process, and those who want to be prepared or are currently experiencing a fire.” Katie Hepler got involved in wildfire relief and recovery in 2015 when the Butte Fire devastated the community of Mountain Ranch and Calaveras County.

MOUNTAIN COMMUNITIES — Wildfire season is just around the corner and being prepared is vital for keeping your family and community safe.  Following are Steps 5 and 6 from “The 12 Step Guide to Help Plan in Advance for Evacuation.” This guide was put together by those who have experienced evacuations firsthand. The guide is set up in a way that encourages you to do the work now, ahead of time, so that if and when you need to evacuate, you will be able to do so quickly and safely.

Step 5: Organize Your Home and Belongings

We’ve covered what you need for the basics and the lifesaving. Let’s get a little more detailed. I’m starting with a step that is more or less a preference depending on the individual. But if you’re anything like me, it will definitely be helpful because your important stuff is not always in one spot! In the event of an evacuation, you will likely not have either the time or proper frame of mind to remember and locate all that you need.
This is why I suggest starting with organizing your home. You don’t know what you have until you see it all. Sort and organize your home in a style that works for you. Here are some different websites with good methods for organizing and decluttering:

Step 6: Photograph EVERYTHING!

In the event of a loss, remembering everything you had can be a headache. You may need this information for insurance or replacement purposes. Photographs will save you a lot of time and stress! This can easily be done with the camera on your phone or a digital camera.

Photographs you may want to take:

  • Overall exterior of your home and property, include any outbuildings, garages etc. 
  • Overview of each room and its contents (also a photo with all drawers/cabinets open).
  • Specific shot of items or areas which need more detail for contents (ie. bookshelf, jewelry, closets, DVDs, etc.).
  • Specific shot of items of significant value or meaning.
  • Any vehicles or large ‘toys’ you may have.
Of course, you can take as many photos as you would like, but these are some good basics. You may also want to do a video walkthrough of your home and property. This will allow you to add commentary and details about your items during the recording.
I suggest your photos and possible videos be uploaded to a secure cloud or put on an external hard drive. The hard drive should be kept in a safe place that is sure to be evacuated with you. It could even be kept at a safe off-site location (bank safe deposit box, trustworthy relative’s home, etc.).
Also, a common cloud option (with some of the most free space out there!) is from Google Drive: https://drive.google.com/

Check here for our previous Wildfire Wednesday Articles

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