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Wildfire ‘Go Bag’ Should Be Updated With These Essentials

Shelters most likely have food, water, first-aid supplies and toilet paper, but not your lifesaving medicines, driver’s license or some other form of identification, and spare keys to your house and car.

Aerial view of a wildfire burning through a forest.
(TNS) - First responders train hard to prepare for wildfires and other disasters. Residents need to do the same, according to the Klamath County Fire Agencies that compiled the online Oregon’s Ready Set Go guide to reduce the risk of a fire harming people and property.

People who have been evacuated know there is no extra time to figure out what to take. And those in a rush may forget a vital item or bring too much.

There is always the possibility that you may have to leave your car, so pack just what you need to keep your emergency “go bag” as light as possible in case you have to carry it on foot or use public transportation.

Unlike an earthquake, in which systems like water, electricity and cellphone towers may be compromised for days or longer, a wildfire go bag should have what you need to reach safety.

Shelters most likely have food, water, first-aid supplies and toilet paper, but not your lifesaving medicines, driver license or some other form of identification, and spare keys to your house and car.

The online resource Rx Open provides information on the operating status of healthcare facilities in areas impacted by a disaster.

“Knowing when to leave, what to take, where to go and how to get there will help keep you and your family from being caught in smoke, fire or road congestion while evacuating during a wildfire,” according to Oregon’s Ready Set Go.

Don’t stop to assemble a bag if your neighborhood or house is on fire, or you’ve been told to evacuate. An area can quickly be consumed by fire. Heat, smoke and ash make it difficult to breathe, and blinding smoke makes day look like night.

Every thing is replaceable, say disaster experts, except people.


Emergency preparedness experts suggest, at minimum, three actions you need to take now to improve your family’s safety during and after a disaster:

  • Sign up to be informed of an oncoming hazard.
  • Have an escape plan: Make sure everyone in your household knows how to safely exit dwellings, where you will all reunite and how you will contact each other in case power lines or phone signals aren’t working. Also plan how you will care for your pets in an emergency.
  • Have a durable emergency “go bag” ready with essentials.
  • This checklist helps you know what to pack. Firefighters encourage everyone to take personal responsibility and learn what you can do today to prevent and prepare for wildfire.


It’s hard to think clearly when you’re told to evacuate. This makes it critical to put together a compact, waterproof, durable go bag filled with hard-to-replace essentials like medicines and spare glasses that you can grab as you race out the door.

Consider the color of your portable disaster kit. Some people choose red so it’s easy to spot stored in the garage or closet, while others buy an ordinary-looking backpack, duffel or rolling cargo bag that won’t draw attention to the valuables inside. Some people remove patches identifying the bag as a disaster or first-aid kit.

Assemble essentials in one place. Many of the must-have supplies may already be in your home, like hygiene items, but you’ll need duplicates and smaller sizes so you can access them fast in an emergency.

Set a pair of hard-sole shoes or leather boots near the go bag to put on before leaving. A pair of long pants, long-sleeve shirt or jacket and socks in a low-flammable natural fabric like cotton or wool are best to wear, but don’t delay to find items in an emergency situation.

Print out a list of phone numbers of physicians, family and friends.

Also pack a lightweight travel bag for your pet and identify a place to stay that will accept animals. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (  FEMA ) app should list open shelters during an active disaster in your area.

In advance of any disaster, uploading important documents to a digital folder skips the need to pack paper copies of documents that can be misplaced.

Scan personal photos and store them on a CD or cloud server. A photo inventory of your home taken now can save you hundreds of painful hours trying to pull together information for an insurance claim after a disaster.


A lightweight, sturdy “go bag” is not like the emergency supplies you maintain at your home in case you have to shelter in place for days.

A “go bag” has the essentials you’ll need — medicines to a portable phone charger — to instantly flee.

Keep bags as light as possible by including only essentials:


  • Keep your car’s gas tank at least half full in case you have to quickly evacuate. Gas stations may be closed during emergencies and unable to pump gas during power outages, says Take one car per family to reduce congestion on roads.
  • Keep a whistle in each bedroom to wake up your family members in the night if there’s a fire or other emergency.
  • Know how to locate and shut off the gas.
  • Consider purchasing a smart water shut-off valve, which will automatically stop your water supply if a pipe bursts.
  • Better yet, consider investing in smart home technology for real-time updates on everything from water leaks to abnormally humid conditions in your home. Insurance companies often offer discounts when smart home devices are installed.
  • Test your smoke detectors and other safety equipment frequently.


Portland Fire & Rescue has a safety checklist that includes making sure electrical and heating equipment are in good working condition and not overheating.

Here’s what you should do to make sure your family and your home are prepared for fires:

  • Place ABC-type fire extinguishers on every level of your home.
  • Install smart smoke and carbon monoxide alarms on each level of your home and in each bedroom.
  • Purchase collapsible ladders for each upstairs bedroom. Typical ladders measure 15 feet and cover two stories of your home.
  • Remove clothes, rags and other materials around furnaces, stoves and other heat-producing equipment.
  • Clear the lint buildup in your dryer after every use and the area behind your dryer every few months.
  • Close the fireplace screen to stop embers from popping onto the floor or carpet.
  • Clean your chimney every year. Soot can harden on chimney walls as flammable creosote.
  • Make sure your electrical cords are in covers and don’t run under carpets or against your walls.
  • Space heaters and heat-producing appliances like toasters and hair dryers should be at least three feet away from anything flammable such as curtains, beds and other linens.
  • Lighted candles should always be contained and monitored.
  • Know how to feel the temperature of the bottom of doors and avoid opening doors if they are too hot.
  • Practice family fire drills twice per year.
  • Learn more by reading emergency guides.

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