How to prepare for an evacuation during wildfire season

KOLD News 5-5:30 p.m. recurring
Published: Apr. 25, 2022 at 5:48 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Even the slightest spark could start a fast-moving raging wildfire in the southwest, including in Arizona.

That’s why officials are asking people to get prepared now in case of an evacuation order.

During an evacuation, you don’t have much time. Red Cross says there are three things you should do: create an evacuation plan, build an emergency kit, and stay informed and up to date on the latest fires.

“When you get that evacuation notice, it’s time to leave, it’s not time to plan,” said Courtney Slanaker, the Southern Arizona Red Cross executive director.

With a heightened fire danger this year, she says having a plan and being prepared is crucial.

“Have a plan on what you’re going to do if you have to evacuate or leave really quickly. Where are you going to meet? And, how are you going to communicate? Those things are especially important to do ahead of time,” she said.

Another way to save time, pack a go bag.

“You want to have at least a one gallon of water per person, per day. You want to have some nonperishable foods. Have supplies for an infant, if you have an infant, things you may not think to bring. You want to have your medication. You want to have copies of your important paperwork,” she explained.

Pet owners, don’t forget supplies for your furry friends.

During a possible evacuation, make sure you also have at least a half tank of gas in case you get stuck in traffic with other people evacuating.

Resident Mary Jane Perkins says she has been forced to evacuate a number of times due to wildfires like the Big Horn fire, and flooding from monsoon. She cares for a number of horses and has a plan worked out with her neighbors.

“That’s where we were trying to meet and tie up to my friend’s corral and then load up the horses and get them out,” she said.

Perkins says she has a phone list so she can call all of her neighbors during an evacuation so they can help each other. Her advice to anyone being forced to evacuate is to stay informed.

″I just think that people need to be more involved on knowing what to do and knowing their neighbors,” Perkins added.

Red Cross says if you already have an emergency plan in place, be sure to talk to your family members or neighbors about it, so everyone involved knows what to do in case of an evacuation.

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