Wildfires have always been a real threat, an unstoppable force that can take away your property in minutes. They have become especially frequent recently, due to the climate changes and the temperature rise. When the heat is literally around the corner, you must be prepared to leave on a very short notice.
What items must you include in a preparedness kit for a wildfire? The most necessary items are:
- First aid kit
- Additional clothes
- Flashlight + batteries
- Phone + charger
- Credit cards + cash
- Important documents, specifically your ID
- Any prescription medicine you might have
- Pet food, if you’re evacuating with pets
This list is maybe self-explanatory, but it is far from complete. We need to go into more details on some of the items, as well as mention a few more that your preparedness kit absolutely must have. Additional related questions will be answered below.
I also made a more general guide on how to prepare a survival backpack that fits any type of disaster.
The Contents of the Wildfire Preparedness Kit – the Full List
The recommended quantity is at least 3 gallons for every member of your group. If you’re escaping the wildfire by car, then it’s much easier to carry this much water or more. Make sure that the water containers are properly sealed and covered from direct sunlight. The containers should be sturdy, but also small enough so that a single person can lift and drink from them.
The minimal amount is 3 days of food for a person. Non-perishable emergency food should be your number one choice. Some online stores sell emergency kits that contain the most nutritious (and delicious) food that you can consume for days. Emergency food can last for many years and, if properly packed, withstand harsh conditions. I go into further details about cheap yet nutritious food in a post about low cost prepping – survival on a budget.
3. First Aid Kit
The first aid kit is an absolute necessity in every emergency, it’s always on the list of the most crucial survival gear. It must contain all the necessary items that you can use to immediately treat an injury, such as bandages, suture kit, sterile gauze pads, tourniquet and iodine. But since we are dealing with wildfires, make sure that it contains items that treat burns as well. I’m talking about a burn relief gel, ointment or spray, as well as burn dressing.
If you wish to learn more about treating burns, here is a very helpful video:
4. Additional Clothes
The entire family should have at least one change of clothes for a member. This could be especially useful if the clothes you’re wearing have absorbed smoke or were damaged by fire. In an extreme case where you might be spending a night outside, make sure that the clothes are warm. If case of socks and underwear, it is advisable to have more than one change.
5. Flashlight and Batteries
There are excellent flashlights available for purchase that are strong and very useful in an unfamiliar dark environment. They usually last long; nonetheless, make sure you have spare batteries. It is also recommended that there is at least one flashlight per two members of your party. Ideally, every person should have his or her own flashlight. I have a personal recommendation for a reliable flashlight that combines a few more useful functions, scroll down to Portable Radio to see what I suggest.
6. Phone and Charger
A cell phone, of course, has become everyone’s constant companion these days. When you’re escaping the wildfire, do not use a phone for leisure activities, such as playing mobile games or idly browsing the social media. The reason is that you might not be able to recharge it. Instead, use it to contact emergency services and other family members; occasionally check the local news to see where the fire is spreading.
Additionally, your preparedness kit should include a charger. An electrical outlet might not be available while you’re on the move. Pack a portable charger, or a charger that connects to the car’s cigarette lighter receptacle via an adapter.
7. Credit Cards and Cash
You might be indefinitely stuck away from home. Your initial provision will run out. You will need a hotel room, or gas for the car. Your credit card should be with you, and in case the phone lines die – have enough cash as well. Smart people always consider the worst case scenarios and plan accordingly.
8. Personal Documents and ID
This one goes without any explanation. Your ID and other important documents should be always on you when you’re escaping the fire or any other disaster. And just in case, scan them and have their photos on your phone or flash drive.
9. Prescription Medicine
While first aid kit helps you to take care of immediate physical problems, never forget your prescription medicine that you take regularly. When you’re on the run from the wildfire, filling a prescription will be nearly impossible. Take the best possible care for your body, and it will take care of you.
10. Pet Food and Supplies
Never leave your smallest family members behind! Make sure you have a carrier ready for your cat, while a dog can be simply taken by a leash. Remember that while you can survive eating almost anything, your pets probably need their specific food and supplements. They need to have enough food and water for at least 3 days, just like the people.
If you worry whether you can pack enough for them, the people at Wise Food Storage have the right answers for you. They put together a Dog Survival Kit and a Cat Survival Kit, which you can immediately grab if you need to leave your house in a hurry. These kits come with an emergency food, water purification tablets, a feeding bowl, a body warmer, and more. Click the links for additional info.
Always remember to protect your pets during the wildfires. Here is a video from ABC7 News that explains how it can be done:
11. Face Masks
An important addition to your preparedness kit is face masks, one per person. When the area is overtaken by the fire, smoke becomes a real danger. A mask has to have a good fit, test it long before you need it. Young children and babies require special, smaller masks, so purchase those as well.
12. Sanitation Items
Personal hygiene is just as important as having a first aid kit to treat injuries. Pack the basic necessities, as long as they don’t overburden you. For instance, you might not take your shampoo bottle; liquid soap can be just as adequate. Your wildfire preparedness kit should have such items as toothbrushes and paste, soap, toilet paper, wet wipes and feminine hygiene products.
13. Portable Radio
Do not rely on your phone and the Internet as the only source of information, since they could be temporarily non-functional. Your kit should contain a radio where you can listen to local news, reports and weather. In the most extreme situations, this could be your only connection to the world. Keep a few spare batteries for the radio as well. My personal favorite is RunningSnail Emergency Radio from Amazon, since it also is a strong flashlight and a power bank that charges your phone for emergency calls. I love when my survival gear combines several extremely useful functions in one item, and this powerful fellow certainly delivers. You can charge it by solar eneregy, manual hand crank or via USB. This is something that you definitely need by your side.
Just like in the previous item, don’t be completely dependent on the Internet and the GPS. You need to have a paper map of your state’s roads with at least two marked escape routes. Navigate by the map to move as far from the approaching fire as possible.
This one is optional, but consider keeping your valuables, such as the jewelry, near the kit. If you’re abandoning your house, there is always a danger of looting. The thieves will use the approaching fire as their chance for an easy profit. Only take the small valuables that you can easily carry, leave the TV set behind. Eventually, your life and survival is more important.
16. Table Games and Entertainment
Maybe a somewhat surprising item on our list, but it could be useful as well, especially if you’re evacuating with children. Being several days away from home can be tedious and boring. Consider taking a few games that don’t require electrical power. They will keep your children (and yourself) entertained and distracted from the unpleasant circumstances.
Always keep in mind that the kit should not slow you down; on the other hand, it must include enough items to help you survive away from your house and the wildfire that threatens it. Use your discretion while compiling your list of necessities that you intend to carry.
Alternatively, you can always get a complete emergency kit. I warmly recommend the Emergency Zone Urban Survival 72-Hour Bug Out/Go Bag Survival Kit from Amazon. This 72 hours emergency kit prepares you and your family for any disaster, wildfire included. It includes hygiene and comfort items, food, survival gear, flashlight, and even a bonus filter straw. You can never predict what natural or social disaster may happen nearby, and this kit has you covered.
I also invite you to see the list of the most recommended emeregency kits that I wrote.
How do you prepare for fire evacuation? Close doors and windows, but don’t lock them. Take down the materials that can easily catch fire, such as curtains. Shut down the gas line and the AC. Take the preparedness kit and go outside to your vehicle. Use the route that will take you away from the danger.
How can we prepare for wildfires? Make or purchase an emergency kit according to the list above. Install smoke detectors and sprinklers. Create an emergency plan that involves all family members and pets. Everyone should know what to do in case of fire, learn about fire safety and conduct a few fire drill to ensure readiness.
How can you stay safe during a wildfire? After evacuating with your family and the preparedness kit, listen to your information sources and weather reports. The wind can change and bring smoke and fire in your direction, so always be alert and ready to move once again.