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Wildfire Wednesday: Pack a Go Bag – Part 6

This is the sixth in a series of articles SNO will be doing called “Wildfire Wednesday.” To begin, there will be eight 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 is Step 8 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 8

Make or Buy Go Bags

A Go Bag is just like it sounds… a bag that you grab when you need to GO really quickly! When thinking of a Go Bag, you may also want to think along the lines of a ‘survivalist’ type bag – as if you have to live on your own without assistance. Again, there are many ways to do this, but I will share my preferences and you can make it your own. For me, I like two different Go Bags. One for the emergency survival type items, and one for personal items. In the event that something comes up extremely fast and/or you have to leave on foot – you may have to make a decision on what to carry. Depending on your situation you may want to leave one of these bags behind. Or, maybe you are a super packer and can fit it all in one bag! (But I like to have my options….)

Emergency Go Bag Items:

  • Non-perishable food (find power packed prepackaged items that will go the distance)
  • Water (1 gallon per person per day is recommended)
  • Radio (crank or battery)
  • Flashlight (crank or battery)
  • Extra batteries (if you opted for battery powered items)
  • First aid kit
  • Multi-tool
  • Whistle (other personal safety)
  • Masks/Gloves
  • Foil blankets
  • Tarp
  • Rope
  • Sani-wipes
  • Toilet paper
  • Garbage bags
  • Pencil/Pen and paper
  • Paper maps
  • Phone charger cords/power bank
  • Written contact list
  • Cash

I note “other personal safety” next to the “Whistle” line item. This can be whatever level of safety you feel comfortable with. If you are a family with firearms and would like to have them, make sure they are on your list. Items like pepper spray and personal safety alarms are also a good option:
(She’s Birdie can be used for men too!)

These are just some basic ideas of things that can end up being pretty important. Please be sure to add or modify as needed for your household. Here are a couple great sites with more lists and ideas for your Go Bag:

Here are some items that I personally have and love for a Go Bag:

Or… maybe you want to purchase a Go Bag that is already put together. You can always add your own extras as needed. Here are a couple options that I have purchased and given away in the group previously that may work for you:

Now on to everything that is specific to you

Again, this is just to give some ideas. Please add to the list as your needs and your bag allows.

  • Supply of prescriptions
  • RX glasses
  • Extra set of clothing
  • 2-3 sets of underwear/socks
  • Jacket/outer layer
  • Personal hygiene items/Feminine items
  • Books, games, items to pass time
  • Extra comforts (blankets)
  • Additional lighting options (lantern etc.)
  • Don’t forget to pack for your kids! Make sure to include things to keep them entertained, and comforted. Tuck away some coloring books, favorite snacks, toys, or a stuffed animal.
  • If you have the items and the space, tossing in your camping gear is a great idea as well.

Packing for Your Pets

Have pets? They need a Go Bag too! Your needs may vary greatly depending on your household. I am going to touch on how to prep for ‘typical’ household animals.

Pet Go Bag Items:

  • Water
  • Food
  • Prescriptions
  • Vet information
  • Micro chip information
  • Extra collar
  • Extra leash
  • Bedding
  • Potty pads/Small litter box etc.

If your pet requires a carrier, obviously this will not fit in your bag. However, your pet’s Go Bag may just fit in their carrier! Make sure your carrier is in a place that is easily accessible. If you keep your carrier collapsed, it’s not a bad idea to put it together and keep it that way during fire season. You can then store their Go Bag in it while not in use to keep everything together.

If your carrier (or any other items) are kept in a garage or space that you can only access with a power opener from the outside then you may want to move them. I suggest keeping them somewhere you can access even if the power is out. Also useful in a pinch – cotton pillow cases! You can transport small animals in a closed off pillow case and they will still be able to breath and be safe.

If you have a lot of animals, large animals, or farm-type animals, PLEASE do your research on the best ways to prepare for your fur family. You may need others to help, or additional trailers to carry animals. This needs to be planned in advance, and have a backup plan, and a backup to that back up. Leaving your animals behind should not be an option.

Here are a few great resources for other types of animals:

Remember, you can put your Household Binder from STEP 7 in your Go Bag if it fits. But if your binder is in your Go Bag, don’t store your Go Bag in your vehicle! If the binder won’t fit in your Go bag, make sure to keep it somewhere nearby!

Any bag will do for your Go Bag(s), but a backpack is always a great solution to keep your hands free. Here is a reasonable backpack option:

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