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Are you ready to evacuate in an emergency? Red Cross shares tips to prepare

Emergency Go Bag
Posted at 5:36 PM, Jul 09, 2024

Emergencies like the Lake Fire highlight the importance of being prepared.

"Be prepared," said Rigo Aguilera, Red Cross volunteer. "Have a plan B and C and all the supplies you need."

"At two in the morning, it's not the time to try to figure out what to do. Being prepared is your best option," said Scott Jalbert, San Luis Obispo County Office of Emergency Services Director.

There are many ways to be prepared for emergency situations. Aguilera says the first thing you should do is have a plan already in place, along with knowing where to go and having your go-bag ready.

"Make sure you have your insurance papers and everything or pictures of them," Aguilera said. "Starting with your phone and also bring a bag with supplies for the family, including water, food, and toys for the kids, and changes of clothes and some basic toiletries, for example, so you have them in a bag and be ready."

If you have pets, knowing what to bring for them is also important.

"A lot of people don't think about their pets and having them prepared," Jalbert said. "The pets may have special diets, a favorite chew toy, a kennel that you can carry the dog in, all those types of things in a moment's notice while at least knowing where that is in your home would be very helpful to evacuate."

And knowing your escape plan is key.

"We always have at least four exits to our home and we always have some water source to put out the fire if things get really bad," said Leo Schwoerer, San Luis Obispo resident.

Things like parking in the direction of your safest way out, making sure your car is filled with gas, and having things ready to go can make a big difference.

But sometimes, you have no choice but to grab your pets and loved ones and leave.

Aguilera says that was the case with most of the people arriving at the Solvang evacuation center from the Lake Fire.

"They're very unprepared. Unfortunately, most of them just left. Most of them waited until the level three warning, which is leave now," Aguilera said.

If you do need to leave everything behind, Aguilera says Red Cross resources are available.

"We're there to help you and give you a hand through the stress of the event and after the event," he said.

The Red Cross can help access necessary medicine, medical documents, family contacts, and provide other necessities. They will even help care for your pets.

The Red Cross evacuation shelter at the Solvang Veterans Memorial Building was placed on standby status Monday night but will be reopened if needed.