TodayApril 15, 2022

What should you do in a fire evacuation?

The Fifth season – Fire 

When did fire become the fifth season? You hear it all the time about this time of year; the Fire season. This fire season, millions of acres have already burned on the west coast. Thousands of people are in some state of the evacuation process as I write this article.

California has almost 400 wildfires burning currently. The state is facing one of the most dangerous fire seasons in history due to high temperatures, strong winds, dry forests, and lightning storms. More than 3 million acres have been burnt so far in California, ten times the same time as last year. It is an ecological disaster.

When evacuation is ordered, you may have only 15 minutes; you may have two hours. The difference is how prepared you are before you get the evacuation notice.

Prepare your vehicle before a fire evacuation notice.

* Make sure your gas tank is full.

I read that a family saw the fire licking the top of their mountain, and everyone climbed in the car and headed out. Unfortunately, they only got a couple of miles before they ran out of gas. They had to abandon their vehicle, and a neighbor picked them up and drove them to safety.

We have a 5-gallon gas tank full of gasoline that we will put in the car’s trunk before leaving. There is a nozzle to fill the gas tank with, and a rag to wipe any spillage.

* Check all the fluids to make sure they are topped off

* Buy an extra air filter or a washable one. It will help what you breathe and the running of your car.

* Check the tires to make sure there is plenty of tread left for a quick getaway.

* Check the windshield wipers. All over the west coast, people are remarking on how it is raining, not water, but ash. Use your wipers to clean your windshield.

Evacuation plans – Ensure you plan with COVID-19 in mind.

Put the stuff in your car right now that you don’t need, but want to take with you. Below is a list of items to consider putting in your car as early as possible.

There are three levels of evacuation that most of us know;

Level 1 (green): READY

Level 1 evacuations are an Alert. Residents should be aware of a danger that exists. Get a radio that works on batteries or your smartphone. Most communities have online forums that will keep you informed of where you can go for shelter. Now is the time to figure that out if you have not already done so.

Have at least one exit strategy

We have two places to go depending on what direction the fire is coming from and which exit we can get to for escape.

Figure out who your point person is that you will call if you get evacuated. Make a list of people for your point person to notify along the way. Once you get evacuated, you are not going to be able to stay in touch and flee.

Put your point person on your smartphone’s Find a phone. They will be able to see where you are and notify people if you get stranded.

People with special needs, or those with pets or livestock, should start making preparations now for relocating family members, pets, and livestock.

We have two legal-sized boxes of papers in our car that include the deed to our properties, our marriage certificate, our birth certificates, and any financial papers we need. In the back seat is a crate for our cats and a bag of cat food. A couple of gallons of water sits on the floor.

Level 2 (Yellow): SET

Level 2 evacuations indicate there is a significant risk to your area. Anyone that can voluntarily leave now should start leaving. The longer you wait, the more chance you will get caught up in traffic or fire. The shelters are set up to take you at this point, so if you don’t have a friend or family member, you can go directly to the shelter and get a spot. The longer you wait, the fuller the shelter will be.

Level 3 (red): GO!

Level 3 means there is immediate danger. It is time to leave. Call your point person and tell them you are leaving. They will call or text everyone on your list and keep them updated.

Items to put in your car before Level 1 Evacuation:


Birth and marriage certificates


Drivers license or personal identification

Social Security cards

Insurance policies — homeowners, auto, life, and any others

Recent tax returns

Employment information

Wills and deeds

Stocks, bonds, and other negotiable certificates

Financial information such as bank, savings, and retirement account numbers and recent tax returns

Home inventory

Emergency Supply Kit Checklist for Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEPs):

Face masks or coverings

Three-day supply of non-perishable food and three gallons of water per person

Map marked with at least two evacuation routes

Prescriptions or special medications

Change of clothing

Extra eyeglasses or contact lenses

An extra set of car keys, credit cards, cash, or traveler’s checks

First aid kit


Battery-powered radio and extra batteries

Sanitation supplies

Copies of important documents (birth certificates, passports, etc.)

Don’t forget pet food and water!

Items to take if time allows:

Easily carried valuables

Family photos and other irreplaceable items

Personal computer information on hard drives and disks

Chargers for cell phones, laptops, etc.

Sadly, the sixth season is mudslides. They usually happen after the fire season.

Stay safe, everyone.

california wildfires - What should you do in a fire evacuation? - evacuation notes

california wildfires – What should you do in a fire evacuation? – evacuation notes

Lou Ann Hammond

Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a founding member of the Women's World Car of the Year #WWCOTY, and board member of the Women in Automotive.

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