It is a story Southern California knows all too well, wildfires. The smell of smoke and the dark clouds rising from the brown, dry land scape. Triple digit temperatures are fueling several fires currently and threating homes near LA. Some people have already been evacuated and others have volunteered to do so. This is not an unusual occurrence, California has wildfires almost every year. Therefore, residents should be prepared for this situation and have precautions on hand or at least know what precautions to take. It is important to have things ready before there is an actual emergency so you know how to react.
Two years ago, fires popped up in a number of locations in Southern California. One of the first fires was in Fallbrook and threatened my kid’s school. It took over two hours for the buses to leave the school because parents were panicked and trying to pick their kids up, blocking roadways and gumming up the school office. This slowed the process down for everyone and caused more concern and fear for the kids. We did not know the exact details and where exactly they would go, but my kids knew if there was ever an emergency I would get to them at the designated evacuation site, not at the school. Some may ask or think, well you could have called them on their cell phones. My kids were too little and did not have a cell phone.
Having a plan was important for me as a female and as a mom. That day my husband was at work and was not able to get home for another 7 hours. As fire were starting to pop up in numerous locations, I made preparations in case the fires threatened our home and we had to evacuate. I helped my two children calmly prepare their things, get the dog packed up and any household items that would be necessary. I knew where things were and had supplies on hand should we have needed them. I was able to take care of our family and allow my husband the peace of mind to focus on his responsibilities. But if I had been in that situation without being prepared it might have been a daunting and overwhelming task.
The lesson is, have a plan, be prepared and communicate that plan to the entire family. It will cut down on the panic and stress. No matter the natural disaster, wildfire, earthquake or another emergency, everyone should take time to make preparation and be an active part of the solution.
I have every confidence many if not all of you reading this already have made preparation in case of such a situation. However, it is always good to take a few minutes to reflect and see if there is anything you need to change about your plan or update. What else have you thought of? What worked great last time and what did not? That year I learned having a list typed up for the kids would be helpful, so that they could independently pack up their belongings in case of an evacuation. That would allow me to gather the items I needed to without walking them through the process step by step and teach them to take responsibility. Teaching our children, friends and neighbors who do not know what to do or have not been in that situation before allows us to support our communities and play an active role.
If you haven’t already made preparation or know someone who has not yet done so, now is the time. There are countless resources to help you get started. Cal Fire has a great website that can guide you, take a look at their Acton Plan. Patrick Henry has written on this exact topic previously and in his May 2014 article on the Carlsbad Wildfires notes, “a week or so of canned goods, a trauma and first aid kit, a battery powered radio, a flashlight, extra batteries, a shotgun with plenty of buck shot, a few gallons of water in a go bag of some sort and a family link up plan will help alleviate nearly every fear.”
Being prepared is a choice. And I choose to know how to be independent and responsible for myself and my family. What about you?