Preparing for Peak Fire Season – Family Emergency Plan – YubaNet
If you are asked to evacuate during a fast moving fire, how do you get your family together if some are at work, others at home or at school? How do you stay in touch and know everyone is okay? The short answer: By having a family emergency plan.
The Family Emergency Plan is your personal “What if” and “How do we do” action plan. Four easy steps:
- Collect information
- Make a plan
- Convenient, at home and on the road
- To be involved
Collect the info
- How will I receive emergency alerts and warnings? CodeRED, Nixle, school emergency notifications, local media i.e. YubaNet text alerts.
- What is my escape route?
- What is my family/household communication plan?
During a forest fire or other emergency, communication networks may be overloaded or unavailable. Power outages are likely, further restricting your access to normal communications.
Landline phone owners, do you have a phone that does not require power to operate? Pro Tip: In the event of an evacuation, port your landline/home number to a cell phone so family and friends can reach you.
Cell phone users, remember that a text message can get through while a phone call doesn’t. Texts require less bandwidth than a voice call. A simple “I’m fine and at [location]is great news when family members are separated during an evacuation. Pro tip: Keep your devices charged, especially on red flag days.
Identify an out-of-town contact who can act as a liaison between you and other family members in case local networks are congested or down.
Make a plan
Create a hard copy of contact information for your family and other important people/offices, such as medical facilities, doctors, schools, or service providers.
Make sure all members of your family have a copy of this information with them at all times, ideally in electronic and hard copy form. The non-electronic version is essential once devices run out of power.
Download a copy of the Family Emergency Communications Plan, fill it out, print it, and post a copy on your refrigerator, in your garage, and give a copy to each household member.
Provide a copy of the information to your out-of-town contact.
Customize the plan to your specific needs. Adults with children should not only plan for themselves, but also incorporate the school’s emergency plan into their own. If you have family members with reduced mobility, consider a buddy system with a neighbor to ensure they can leave the house safely in your absence.
Convenient, at home and on the road
The best plan is of little value if it is never tested. Once your plan is ready, practice. Conduct your own personal exercise with all members of your household, including your pets. If you’ve ever tried to put a reluctant cat in a carrier, you know it takes over a minute.
Most of us take the same route home every day. Take a few hours and identify alternate routes if possible. Depending on the direction and speed of spread of a fire, your normal exit route may be blocked. Ideally, take the alternate day and night routes. Wildfire smoke quickly darkens the sky and you could be driving through dense smoke with almost no visibility.
To be involved
If your neighborhood is chosen for one of Nevada County’s evacuation drills, participate. Get involved in your Firewise community if you live in one, or start one with the help of the Fire Safe Council.
Talk to your neighbors and see how you can help each other. Being prepared reduces stress levels and increases resilience – what’s not to love about it?
Next week, plan and practice with your family, especially your children.
More in this series
Preparing for peak fire season – vehicle safety and neighborhood awareness
Preparing for peak fire season – Go bags for everyone
Preparing for peak fire season – wood stoves, chimneys, roofs, gutters and screens
Preparing for Peak Fire Season – “Spring Cleaning”
Preparing for Peak Fire Season – Your Escape and Emergency Plan
Getting ready for peak fire season – let’s make a list (or two)
Preparing for peak fire season – a 12 week program