Evacuation time: be prepared for fire season with these 10 items in your to-go bag

Natalie Tress

According to data from Cal Fire, there have been 6,630 major wildfires in 2021, covering over 1,470,637 acres of land — and it is only just the start of fire season. Compared to the statistical average of the past five years, showing 5,690 major fires covering 460,911 acres, 2021 is already showing potential to be one of the worst fire seasons yet. With this in mind, it has become increasingly important for the Redwood community to be educated on how to prepare for fire season, in case Marin experiences an evacuation-worthy emergency. 

Illustration by Keely Ganong and Samantha Elegant.

Packing a fire evacuation to-go bag may be one of the most efficient ways to feel safe and ready in the case of a nearby fire. These bags should be kept under your bed or near the most used exit of your house for easy accessibility during an evacuation. It is common for people to wonder what sorts of items to pack in the event of an emergency, so here are some examples of what you can include.

  • First-aid kit: This should be thoroughly stocked with medical necessities, including, but not limited to, antiseptic wipes, gauze, bandages and other products that could prevent or help injuries in case of an evacuation. 
  • Water: Make sure to store the water in a cool place and replenish it routinely to ensure a fresh stock during an evacuation. 
  • Non-perishable food: This could include dehydrated camping meals or nutritionally dense snacks like Gu gels or Clif Bars, all of which could be found at REI and other adventure-based stores.
  • Personal Hygiene Items: Include a few days’ supply of items like shampoo, conditioner, toothbrush, toothpaste, body wash and any other hygienic products that may be beneficial while there is no access to your home. 
  • Important documents: Copies of documents that your family might keep in a safe, like passports, birth certificates and other legal documents, would be extremely important to pack. 
  • Pet supplies: If you have a pet, pack any essentials including a bag of pet food, extra water, water and food bowl, collar, leash and a printed picture of your pet in case they are lost in the fire. 
  • Money: Extra cash, credit cards and debit cards will come in handy if you happen to forget your wallet and are in the need to purchase something.
  • Clothing Essentials: Make sure to pack a few extra outfits with plenty of layers that could withstand different weather conditions.
  • Extra Keys: Keep a spare house key, car key and any other necessary keys in the bag, as you may forget to grab that in the face of a quick evacuation.

    Visit Cal Fire Active Fires of Interest page to be informed of wildfire information near you. Photo courtesy of Cal Fire.
  • Room for personal items: If you have a photo book, nostalgic memorabilia or even a childhood blankie, now would be the time to grab it. It is important to leave room in your evacuation bag for everyday-use personal items that you will be grabbing last minute during an evacuation. 

With these 10 suggestions of what to pack in your wildfire to-go bag, your evacuation process, which hopefully will not happen, will be as straightforward as possible. For information about when evacuation warnings occur, as well as other threatening fire information, sign up to receive alerts from Alert Marin Emergency Notification through this survey.