I wanted to share my experience with you all while it’s still fresh, I hope that you might learn from it, and that I might learn more from it via
your input! I would greatly appreciate it if you would please keep any criticism constructive, I’ll be pointing out some of the flaws I noticed
myself, and I hope that you will do so with kindness
There are a number of wildfires burning in San Diego county and aboard Camp Pendleton, and have been for the last few days. Most of them were quite
far from me, but by yesterday more had sprung up and it resulted in my neighborhood being situated in the middle of three separate fires (they were
still some distance away, but the shifting winds were making them more of a concern). We were told that we should be prepared to evacuate.
I had on the first day of fires already gathered our things into a sort of staging area by the door, so that all we had to do was load the cars. By
the time the closer fires sprang up, I was already ready to go.
This is a view from my street about 30 minutes before they ordered evacuation:
Since we had two cars to work with, I naturally OVER-packed. This was my first big mistake. I did my packing with the ASSumption that my husband would
be able to get home to assist with evacuating. Had the fires shifted in the wrong direction, his only route home would have been cut off. However, I
did have the sense to separate our things into two piles. One was composed of the essentials (and a couple of things that are neither essential nor
sentimental, but we don’t leave home without!); the other was all the sentimental stuff I hoped to also bring. We ended up loading the essentials in
my car; the stuff we could abandon was in his car (in case for whatever reason we had to leave his car).
What I learned from this part is that I need to completely rethink HOW I pack. I will be breaking our “family gear” down into two separate kits.
My husband’s will live in his trunk (which I’ve been meaning to get around to anyway). Mine will live in my trunk. Both kits will contain typical
BOB gear: 3 days of food, water, hygiene, clothes, meds, etc. The parts of the kits that don’t get to live in the car will be kept in our staging
I need to make a physical checklist that we can run through as we are leaving in the event of another evacuation. For example, things that my husband
thought of that I did not included: closing all the windows and removing the sticker from our window that lets firefighters know we have dogs inside
that need to be saved. I wouldn’t have ever thought of that, and in a dire situation that sticker could have cost someone his or her life (because
we obviously evacuated WITH our pets). That really made a huge impact on me that I didn’t think of it.
I was really proud of my kid. We called it a fire drill, and she was actively involved in packing her own bag and doing exactly what I asked of her
right when I asked. Her only concern was that the hotel we went to should have continental breakfast! Lol
Social media was an invaluable tool for me to keep tabs on the fire, as I don’t have cable. I did have my emergency radio on an AM channel, but I
learned that it was not very helpful to me because we are located on the military base and press access is limited. I also accessed live feeds online
to keep tabs on things, but again this was limited. Another concern that I have is that this base has emergency text alerts, which I am signed up for.
I never received a single text alert; I will be following up on this problem for sure!
One last thing: I was able to get everything and everyone (including our dogs) loaded and ready to go in about 12 minutes. Which I find unacceptable.
I want to get that time down to 5 minutes, and I believe I can accomplish that by creating a proper trunk kit of gear, and running through this
scenario again as a drill.
So, that was my experience. I am safely back home now, which is thankfully unharmed. I know a lot of you are probably super prepared for just about
anything, so this may all be just common sense for you. I just want to make sure that everyone understands that having the gear and reading online
what to do in certain situations doesn’t necessarily mean you are ready. I strongly recommend that everyone practice drills, there is always room
is a link about the fires.
PS. These pics look gigantic in the preview, but I don't know how to resize them... sorry!