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“Lookout Fire!” Not “Lookout, Fire!”

View from my deck…

It’s all about where you choose to place your punctuation. The other day, we had a pretty serious looking fire scare when the Lookout Fire ignited in the sleepy Santa Barbara hills.

So instead of “Lookout, fire!” Yesterday was, “Lookout Fire!”

Yes, the fire was so close to my house that if it followed a similar path as some of the previous fires we’ve had in Santa Barbara, we were going to have to evacuate.

Information Gathering:

First of all – I wanted to learn more about the fire (oddly, I first learned about it from a picture my friend posted on Facebook)…So I pulled up Twitter and created a column for #lookoutfire. In addition to this, I wanted to see if I could find a radio station covering the fire. I remembered hearing about my county’s Radio Ready program, which had pre-designated stations to give disaster updates during an incident. However, this was slightly more difficult as I had to dig my radio out of the bottom of my treacherous hall closet, only to discover that the batteries were corroded – FAIL

Now I’m hoping that the rest of the day doesn’t go like this…

Next, let’s go through my “Evacuation Checklist”

I wrote this up a while ago, so I would know what personal items would need to be gathered if we had to evacuate. I even tried listing them in order, so that if I had less time, I would at least have the most important items with me. First things first – dog supplies! Yes, I know some will scoff at this (especially since I work for the Red Cross), but Moose is really important to us, and I’d rather she have her own food, toys, bed and treats…why? Because if I suddenly have to switch her food, she’d get sick, and she was stressing out enough watching me pack in such a hurry. The same thing goes for families with kids. A little planning here will save you some hassle and can keep your kids at ease if they have something familiar with them.

Next on the list was “Important docs” – we have digital copies as well, but for some reason, if I have time, I’d like to have the real thing in hand. Important documents included our mortgage papers, passports, birth certificates, marriage license, and Moose’s registration/vaccination papers.

Then I moved down to “computers, cell phones, chargers…” – we have a LOT of information and pictures on our computers, and while I was happy to ditch my work computer (too heavy to easily carry??), I stashed away my personal laptop because I knew I’d still be able to work remotely from it, while keeping all of our family memories and important pieces of info with us. I would almost say chargers are more important than the actual computers and cell phones!

Then I grabbed my toiletry kit (which is ALWAYS packed and ready to go), my asthma inhalers, and SNACKS! Snacks are an easy thing to overlook…but if you’re like me and have special dietary needs, planning ahead for snacks is imperative. You have no idea when you’re going to be able to eat or what you’re going to be able to find. Besides, if you know you may be heading into a stressful situation, having a little something that you sincerely enjoy can be great for your emotional state. Can you tell I plan ahead more for the stress factor than anything else?

Because I still had time, I decided to grab clothes and a few family keepsakes (the ones that we could never replace, like the certificate that my husband’s grandfather received from the Navy when he crossed the equator for the first time). Again, as a Red Crosser, it may sound weird that I’m suggesting that one attempt to grab a family keepsake, but my personal philosophy is that “if it means a lot to us, and there is NO WAY to replace it, AND I have time, I’ll grab it”

While it sounds like I was grabbing a lot, I actually got everything into two medium sized bags…Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised, considering I thought my list was quite long.

So within 15-20 minutes, everything was packed. I was ready. Thankfully, we didn’t have to evacuate…

Speaking of Wildfires, did you know that the Red Cross now has an app for that too? Read more and download it here.