Firefighters in California are battling more than a dozen wildfires across the state, which have collectively displaced hundreds of thousands of people and thrown entire communities into darkness and chaos.
Knowing how to prepare for a wildfire is crucial to save lives and property. Here are some tips for preparing a “Go Bag” with basic emergency supplies which you can grab and evacuate immediately when a wildfire breaks out.
To assemble your kit, store items in airtight plastic bags and put your entire wildfire supplies kit in one or two easy-to-carry containers such as a duffel bag.
A basic “Go Bag” of emergency supplies could include the following recommended items:
Prepare one gallon of purified water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation. A wildfire may affect thousands of acres with dramatic temperature raise, which increases the water consumption of human body. Remember, one gallon of water per day is the minimal amount of water to drink for a person, if possible, refill the container with drinkable water from sources announced safe by authorities.
Prepare at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food, including compressed biscuits, chocolate, canned food, beef jerky, nuts, cheese, etc.
Prepare a battery-powered or hand crank radio. The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio as well as the local radio stations provide emergency alerts and following-ups of the wildfire.
CNN reported that nearly a million homes and businesses in California were slowly going dark last Saturday as the state's largest utility shut off power in an attempt to avoid "catastrophic" wildfires. Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) cut power to some 940,000 customers across 38 counties in Northern and Central California for what could be an unprecedented wind event.
Wildfires often cause a power outage for days, even weeks, so a durable light source is very essential whether you have to evacuate or stay inside your house. It is better to prepare battery-powered or solar lights with LEDs which are energy efficient and bright enough for lighting your surroundings. Prepare extra batteries.
First Aid Kit
Prepare a portable first aid kit with extra antibacterials, eye drops and prescriptions for burning, asthma, sore throat, and other symptoms a wildfire may incur.
A whistle is simple but helpful when you are trapped in a wildfire, use it to signal for help instead of shouting. Learn to use a whistle to blow an international signal for help “SOS”---three short bursts, three long bursts, three short bursts.
A wildfire will fill in the air with particles in weeks or even months, and wildfire smoke can irritate your eyes, nose, throat, and lungs. Prepare N95 masks to keep particles out of the air you breathe. N95 masks feature particulate respirators, are designed to filter at least 95 percent of airborne particles, and are approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
Cellphone and Power Bank
Prepare cell phones with chargers and a power bank. It is better to fully charge the power bank or have a solar charging power bank. When a wildfire breaks out, phone systems are often busy, and texting is always faster than making calls, you can text or use social media to communicate with friends and family.
Everything strives for the best possibilities, but must be prepared for the worst.