Last Sunday a brush fire started several miles from my home. Though our house was never in danger, people just 10-15 miles away were evacuating for safety.

This is the second fire in a short amount of time that caused evacuations in our area. I’ll admit that I don’t really think about natural disasters that often. Living in Oregon, I don’t have to deal with tornadoes or hurricanes. We get the occasional small earthquake, but it’s never anything that causes major damage. And since we don’t live by a creek or river, we don’t have to worry about flooding.


But fires…our area does have it’s share of fires. And this recent fire made me realize that if I needed to evacuate my house quickly, I wouldn’t be ready.

I’m ready for other emergencies, such as a medical emergency or a bad snowstorm that leaves us stranded at home for days. My next goal is to get us ready for an emergency evacuation.

What to Put in an Evacuation Pack

Put three days worth of emergency supplies in Rubbermaid type boxes, so you can grab them quickly and load them into your car in case of an emergency. Your boxes should include:

  • Water (1 gallon per person per day)
  • Non perishable food
  • Can opener
  • Sharp knife
  • Paper bowls, plates, & utensils
  • Toiletries
  • Medications
  • First Aid Kit
  • Flashlight
  • Battery Powered Radio
  • Change of clothing
  • Blanket
  • Plastic Bags
  • Matches or a lighter
  • Hand sanitizer

Your kit can include more than this, depending on your needs, but this is the minimum you should have on hand and ready to go.

Have a Plan in Case of Evacuation

Having an emergency supply kit isn’t enough. You should also have a plan, in case you are evacuated.

The first step is to never let your gas tank run down to empty. Always keep at least a quarter of a tank of gas in your car, in case of an emergency. This is not important only in terms of an evacuation, but it’s also helpful if you have to make a midnight run to the emergency room with one of the kids.

It also helps to have some idea of where you would go. If you have relatives nearby, you could plan to stay with them in case of an emergency. If you don’t have friends or relatives nearby, often the Red Cross will set up evacuation centers, so if you listen to the news on your battery powered radio, you should be able to find a place to go.

Finally, designate a contact person who lives out of the area. If your area is evacuated, chances are your relatives will be unable to reach you by phone. If you can reach a person out of the area, that person will be able to update your extended family. And if you get separated from your family, having a single contact person can help you be reunited, if everyone in your family knows who to call.

A Final Note

Sometimes you have to evacuate quickly in an emergency. If that’s the case, grab your emergency kit and go.

However, sometimes you may get a little warning. If you hear rumors of evacuation, begin packing up your car immediately. If you start early, you’ll be able to grab sentimental items, such as photographs. And if firefighters or law enforcement suggest you evacuate, please listen to them.

Photo: view of smoke from the nearby fire, taken from our backyard.