On a recent trip to Texas, I witnessed firsthand the severe drought they have been experiencing over the last several months. With record temperatures and lack of rain fall, the fire conditions around the state are at an all time high. Resources are being stretched thin. The State has requested and received assistance from across the United States and is using aerial equipment from as far away as Canada to combat the fires from the air. Citizens living in areas that have been ravaged by the wildland fires have been given evacuation notice as short as 10 minutes.
Families are leaving their homes with just the clothes on their back. If you have not already created a family emergency plan, today is the day you should get started. Families should have key documents, such as insurance policies and phone numbers of insurance agents and claim centers in case you need to file a claim. You should also gather medications, extra glasses, and any vital health equipment you may need.
If your community uses emergency phone notification and you do not have a home phone, contact your local emergency dispatch center via the non emergency phone number and inquire how to register your cell phone to receive emergency notification in case you have to evacuate during an emergency. Remember seconds count and be prepared to evacuate when the time comes.
NFPA's Firewise Program has some great information on the Ready, Set, Go! program established by the IAFC, to help fire service and homeowners with evacuation planning. Additionally, the NFPA's "Get Ready" information has excellent resources including an emergency plan card and emergency kit.
-Orlando Hernandez, NFPA Public Fire Protection Staff Liaison