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Evacuation Protocol: Before, During, After a Wildfire

Published on: 2/13/2013 4:18 PM

​If you are warned that a wildfire is threatening your area, listen to your battery-operated radio for reports and evacuation information.  Follow the instructions of local officials.

Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape.  Shut doors and roll up windows.  Leave the key in the ignition.  Close garage windows and doors, but leave them unlocked.  Disconnect automatic garage door openers.
Confine pets to one room.  Make plans to care for your pets in case you must evacuate.  If you have them, get pets securely in animal crates, have leashes ready and make sure your pets have collars with identification on them – consider adding the contact information of a relative or a cell phone number.
Document your (potential) loses:  Grab a camera and take pictures of all of your belongings.
Gather medications.
Wear protective clothing – sturdy shoes, cotton or woolen clothing, long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and gloves.
Make sure you have water and something to cover your face for filtering out the smoke.  A dust-type mask is best, but a wet cloth of any sort will work, too.
Gather together important documents: insurance documents, birth certificates, passports, checkbook, credit cards, etc.
Grab your cell phone charger.
If you don’t have a cell phone, try to locate your nearest Red Cross evacuation center before you leave.  (Red Cross – 866-GET INFO)
Pack a week’s worth of clothing.
Gather irreplaceable items like photo albums and family heirlooms.
Leave as soon as you are directed to do so.
Take a Disaster Supply Kit or First Aid Kit if you have one.
Lock your home.
Choose a route away from fire hazards.  Watch for changes in the speed and direction of fire and smoke.  Tell someone when you left and where you are going.
Once you get to an evacuation center:
Contact your family and close friends.  Make sure they know how and where they can contact you.
Contact your insurance agent – even if you don’t have papers.
Register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency: 800-621-FEMA.                                                                                                
Make sure that FEMA knows how to contact you or your application will stall.  You may want to give them the contact information for a family member, close friend or your work number.

Keep receipts (hotel, and any monies you spend starting from the moment you are displaced.  FEMA and your insurance agent will help you sort out what is allowable.)

FEMA also offers victims the following advice:
Don’t be a victim twice:  Don’t put your common sense on hold.  There are a lot of phony charities that spring up during disasters.  Deal with national and local charities you know like the Red Cross or your local church.

Be wary of individuals who attempt to expedite your claim, people posing as phony insurance adjustors or any expediting fees – there is never a fee for anything the government does related to disaster assistance.  Always demand identification from anyone you deal with.  All government representatives and insurance representatives carry appropriated identification.  Deal only with licensed contractors for any demolition, cleanup, repairs and rebuilding.
For More Information Please Contact:
Office of Emergency Services
55 W. Younger Avenue
Suite 450
San Jose, CA 95110
Fax: 408-294-4851
Phone: 408-808-7800