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How To Prepare Your Family For An Emergency Evacuation

photo by Maura Hernandez of Skirball Fire, 2017

It’s been a scary time in Los Angeles with the Woolsey fire breaking out in Ventura and Los Angeles counties and a fire breaking out in Griffith Park. Mandatory evacuations are in place in parts of Ventura County and in Malibu and some area freeways are closed. LA residents need to be ready to evacuate in case of emergency.

LA County Sheriff Chief John Benedict urged residents being evacuated to bring mediation and important documents. He also said to be ready to go. “This thing moves fast and you need to be prepared. If you need to go, go. If you’re being told to go, get out of there,” he said during an interview with KPCC.

So how do you prepare to go? If you are in a mandatory evacuation area, get out immediately. If you are in an area that may need to evacuate, consider leaving early.

If you have time, here are a few tips to prepare to evacuate:

  1. Have a family escape plan. Ready.gov recommends families choose a place to go if they need to evacuate ahead of time and identify more than one way to get there. If you have animals, find a place that can take them. MySafeLA has a detailed Family Escape Plan.
  2. Identify a family meet-up location. If family members are at work or school, plan a meet-up location with more than one way to get there in case some roads are closed.
  3. Find out your child’s school’s evacuation plan. Figure out more than one way to get to and from the school and determine who will pick up kids in case of emergency.
  4. Get your important documents together. Put what you need in a watertight container and on a flashdrive. They include birth certificates, drivers licenses, social security cards, insurance papers, immunization records and bank and credit card accounts, according to the LA Community Response Team Manual. Place everything else you need in a fire-proof safe.
  5. Get your emergency supplies ready. MySafeLA has an emergency supply kit list that includes prescription medication, water, non-perishable foods, battery powered radio, first-aid kit, cell phone chargers, whistle and dust mask to filter the air. Find more information on what you need in your emergency supply kit on MySafeLA.
  6. Prepare to leave your home immediately. Park your car so it’s facing out of the driveway so you can drive away without backing up. Roll up the car windows and bring everything you need with your including some food and water. Keep your gas tank full if you are at risk of evacuation.
  7. Be Calm.  Follow the directions of authorities and try to think clearly. If you are told to evacuate, you must go. According to the Los Angeles Fire Department’s Ready, Set Go, “…with all of the experience gained in past California wildfires makes it clear that the “stay and defend” concept may sound reasonable on paper, but is extremely dangerous in real-life. People decide to stay before the fire front arrives. When it does, many people change their mind (or panic) and decide to leave – and at that time, it’s too late. Many fatalities that have occurred in wildfires around the world are the result of people leaving their homes too late.”

For up to date information on the Woolsey Fire, visit Ventura County Emergency Information. 

To sign up to get emergency alerts for LA County Residents, sign up through alert.lacounty.gov or for Los Angeles Residents, sign up through emergency.lacity.org/notifyla  

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