Our Northwest

What to do when you're told to evacuate

Monday, May 13, 2019by  PEMCO Insurance

​Fire officials classify evacuations in three levels – and each requires a different response from you:

Level 1: A wildfire threatens your area. Stay alert for notices and consider packing now so you're ready to go if needed.

Level 2: People with mobility and medical issues should evacuate now. Livestock should be moved now. It's likely authorities may order a general evacuation. Pack your car with essentials like your family emergency kit and personal items such as clothing, toiletries and valuable, portable items. Make a plan for family members to meet, and include pets.

Level 3: Authorities order an evacuation, usually via a designated route. Perimeter roadblocks may be set up. Once you're out, check in with your local Red Cross shelter (even if you're staying elsewhere) so concerned family members can locate you. Don't return home until officials give the all-clear.

When it comes to evacuations, sooner is better than later. That may mean leaving at Level 2, before authorities officially order you to go. You'll avoid congested highways and the unsettling possibility of wildfire interfering with your preferred escape route.

You also may have time to prepare your property before you go. If so, here's what you can do:

  1. Close windows and doors, but leave them unlocked for firefighters.
  2. Remove flammable window coverings and move furniture to the center of the room, away from windows. If you have metal shutters, close them.
  3. Turn off gas at the meter, pilot lights and air conditioning.
  4. Bring in patio furniture and other exterior flammables.
  5. Turn off propane tanks and move barbecues away from structures.
  6. Seal attic and ground vents to keep embers from floating in.
  7. Turn off automated landscape sprinklers if they would reduce water pressure for firefighters.
  8. Connect your garden hoses in case they may be useful to firefighters.
  9. Leave outdoor lights on to help firefighters see your home through the smoke.
  10. Check on neighbors to make sure they're able to leave.​ 

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