Discussions

Renata–in my opinion, having discussions NOW, BEFORE they are needed is the best route.    There is no substitute for family members being able to say, “Hey!   Renata was really smart!  She told us if there was a communications black out that we should text (NOT call, TEXT) Aunt xxx or Uncle xxx in (distant location/state).   She told us that if we can’t communicate, we should all try to meet up at (local destination 1) or (local destination 2).   Once we reach either location 1 or 2, leave a specific note if anyone has to go out to try to look for others.    I live in Southern California, wildfire and earthquake country.   Dad and I were burned out completely in 2003, and dad burned out again in 2007.   In 2011, there was a 3 state and part of Mexico blackout.  That’s 3 different occasions in the past 19 years when there was ZERO communication.   In 2003, I didn’t have a cellphone, nor did many of my family or extended family–it was all landlines, and the telephone lines burned.   No internet.  No facebook.   No Twitter.  The Cedars Wildfire displaced about 2500 families and businesses in a few days.  Nobody had even thought of not being able to communicate in 2003.    I knew people who were unable to locate family and friends for weeks.    I was fortunate and had 3 family homes that didn’t burn, so we all went to one of those homes.   It took about 6 months before the electrical and telephone lines were re-strung and operational.    Not surprisingly, the wealthier, in-town areas were a priority over rural towns.     The hour-by-hour news focused on the wealthier, in-town areas and virtually nothing was said about the 1,000’s of people in what San Diegans call “the backcountry” or where safety could be found. In 2007, it was better, but again, the backcountry areas which burned were barely covered by the news.    A lot of folks had cel phones by now, but the cel towers and landline towers/lines burned again.   Virtually nothing in the hour-by-hour disaster news had information for 1,000’s of people looking for information and safety. The  Massive 2011 Southwest Blackout was terrifying.  Everybody panicked, tried to use cel phones at the same time, and crashed everything.   Zero communication.   Lots of rumors:   North Korea nuclear attack?   Cyber attack?   Terrorist attack?    In 2011,  I was the Auntie who picked up the 3 grade school kids if mom or dad got caught in traffic.    The power went out at about 3 pm on a week day.   It was hot, and I figured I’d cool off at the local Denny’s.   Denny’s was dark.    Tried to call, cel phone dead.  Drove to kid’s elementary school and saw total chaos.  Teachers were ok for the most part, but some were crying.   Nobody could reach the parents.   Parents couldn’t reach the school.  Nobody knew why there was no electricity or phone of any kind, landline or cel.   Nobody knew if we were being attacked. I collected all 3 of my kids and waited there in case I needed to stuff other kids in my car and take them home.   Once the parents for the additional 5 kids showed up in person, I headed for home.   Normally, the trip took 13 minutes.    It took 55 minutes to get home–gridlock.   The parents didn’t get home for nearly 5 hours.    They knew I would have gone to the school, because I was the emergency backup to get the kids, so they drove by the school, saw it deserted, then went to their house. When the parents got home, I was at their house with all 3 kids.   I made a dash home for medicines and my pet.   We locked the gates and went into full prepper mode.   The only way to get news was on the car radio.  It said it could be days or weeks before power restored because nobody knew what the H*** was going on.   Power was only out for 12 hours, but, it was a loooooooong 12 hours.   I couldn’t sleep because I use a CPAP for breathing.   At 2 am, the 5 year old came and crawled in with me because she was scared.  I took her outside with some blankets and pillows and we laid in the driveway and looked up at the constellations and I showed her Orion.  I told her to remember this night of total darkness with no electricity and enjoy the stars and remember not to be afraid if it ever happened again.

@HappySoul and OP and others on this thread–Although I don’t post or even visit this site often, it is IMO, the best “sane” site.   Had to laugh at M.E. Contributer below, “Will I be sad if I never get to use my titanium spork?  No.   Do I love being able to compare titanium sporks?? Absolutely!” My niece and I enjoy the heck out of “comparing titanium sporks” and other stuff.   We do a lot of research before making a commitment.   We have spent the past 8-10 years adding to our gear/emergency food etc. as we had a little extra money here or there.   I’ve always planned multiple redundancies and we pretty much know that there will be extra people in addition to our own 6 in the family.    Unless it’s a wildfire, stay-in-place is our first/second/third option.  Bug-out or walking is waaaaay last. It’s expensive to prep!   Even doing this over a decade and utilizing sales and dollar stores and Walmarts etc., I figure about $30,000 ($3,000/annually/$250 a month) has gotten us to the point that 6-10 people could function if all the lights went out/the water shut off/cars don’t run/ for 4-7 months without leaving our home.    $250 a month for 10 years for “insurance” is a lot!  To many of my family, friends, and neighbors, that would be a crazy amount to spend on stuff to prepare for something that we hope will never happen.  Prepping also takes a LOT of space!   For 6-10 people, it can suck up an entire 14’x14′ room.    With all that said, we are all absolutely ok with the knowledge that a wildfire could wipe it all out in hours.   That’s why we have traditional home/auto/health insurance.    Being prepared mentally AND financially to leave BEFORE the s**t hits the fan means being safe.   It means we won’t fall into the normalcy bias mindset.  It means we won’t be caught in a traffic jam trying to evacuate, won’t be unable find a room when none are available (we can stay in the car if we have to), won’t be able to get cash when the banks are shut and ATM’s overwhelmed or have enough gas in our usually not less than half full cars.    It is also wonderfully comforting to know that each family member (even those that think we’ve gone off the deep-end of prepping), can think outside-the-box and find the safest way regardless of what may happen.   That’s worth more than $250 a month for 10 years in my book.

In an arid area (like mine in southern California), do the best you can.   I strongly recommend multiples of these products to filter water: Sawyer mini-filters (buy whenever on sale and have multiples)  —  Also Lifestraw (buy whenever on sale and have multiples)   FYI, the multiples are for cars and other people like friends and neighbors who are NOT prepared if everybody suddenly needs water.   They are also perfect barter and small enough and inexpensive enough to have a lot on hand.   The Sawyer mini’s are the best and don’t have shelf-life expiration. Water BOB – one for each bathtub –our family of 5 used 3 WaterBOB’s (with separately purchased, battery powered siphon pumps) for 2-1/2 weeks when the water line to our rural property was broken.   Took showers, did laundry, re-filled 5 gallon jugs at niece’s home nearby during the 2-1/2 weeks.  Not fun, but worked. Berkey Water filters (you may need to be sneaky and purchase from Texas or a state that will actually ship it to California).   These can be used to filter pool water, dirty water, etc. Store extra bottled water.   Although it may go against other preparedness advice, I personally feel comfortable storing bottled water for years and would absolutely let my family drink it no matter how old it was IF I have a Sawyer or Berkey to filter it.   If it’s an emergency, I’m not gonna say, “Oh heck!   This bottled water’s been in my garage/trunk/attic/pantry since 2010.   I better not drink it and die of thirst because it might have some plastic chemicals that have leached into it.”   

Bare bones: 1.  FREE Most important – review your insurance policies (homeowner/renter/landlord) annually. 2.  FREE  Pre-arrange with each person in your dwelling to have the same primary out-of-state contact in case of emergency who can receive calls and post updates on social media.  Put it in each person’s  cel phone under EMERGENCY  3.  FREE Pre-arrange a primary AND secondary place to meet if it becomes chaotic during an emergency.  (Cell phones often don’t work during emergencies because of damage to the towers or because the system around the disaster zone is overloaded–see #2 above).   Put in the notes section of the cel phone EMERGENCY contact. 4.  FREE Pre-arrange and provide written permission to have others pick up any children in the dwelling in case you cannot get them yourself.   Explain this to the child(ren).  Put the names/phone numbers/addresses of these person(s) in the notes section of each person’s cel phone EMERGENCY contact. 5.  $5-$20 Buy used piece of rolling luggage at a thrift store.   Size:  same as what would fit under a seat in an airplane or under a bed or on a closet shelf. ($5 -$20 per piece of luggage).   Each adult in the dwelling should have an individual piece of rolling luggage OR a two adults can combine their luggage.   Each child should have a small, used backpack or rolling book bag (like used in elementary/middle school).     These bags should be dedicated to emergency use only!   Never “borrow” things from these bags intending to put them back later!   These are designed to be  bags that you pack and store under bed or in closet where you can forget about them unless needed.   For example, a family with 2 adults and 2 children aged 7 and 9 may need 1 piece of luggage for adults, two small, used backpack or rolling book bag for each child.   These will be your emergency “grab and run for safety” (i.e., fire drill) bags that you will fill. 6.   FREE Go to each person’s closet and pick out a complete change of clothing, including a coat, socks, old-broken-in comfortable shoes/underwear/rain gear etc.    Usually this is free because you can pick the ugly stuff you purchased and never wear.  For children, put in clothing/shoes/etc. that are 1-3 sizes larger than needed in case you forget to update their bag and their stuff is too small when needed.  (Hand-me-downs from stair-step-kids are great.) FREE Have each child choose a comfort item (stuffed animal, game, blanket) to put in their “Fire Drill” bag.   7.  $10-$40+ PETS – Buy a carrier at a thrift store for dog/cat.  Go to Dollar Store and purchase a can of pop-top wet pet food, small bag of kibble (or make up small pest-proof packages from your existing pet food), leash, water bowl, food bowl, baby blanket, 2 liter bottle of water. Put all these supplies in the carrier in a bag and stuff in the carrier.   Write your name/address/phone/pet’s name in Sharpie on the outside of the carrier.  When ready to run, put in pet, tie supplies to top of crate and go.   (Pets go missing during evacuations and in shelters!) NOTE:  Large animals require a much different evacuation plan which will NOT be covered here.  Make your plans ahead of time!  If you have horses/livestock, etc., make SURE they are trained to load in horse trailers!  If you can’t load livestock, let them loose after you spray paint your phone number on the hide of each animal.   8.  $5-10 In adult bags:  Paper maps of the geographic region!   Do NOT rely on cel phone GPS! 9.  $10-20 In adult bags:  New, unused iphone AND android cables AND chargers.  (They don’t need to be high quality, cheap ones will do just fine.)  These are NEVER to be “borrowed” or taken out of the Emergency Go Bag!     10.  $5 per person’s bag:  From Dollar Store three cans of easily opened, ready to eat, things like Spaghettios, a bottle of water, roll of toilet paper.    11.  FREE – if anyone needs prescription or reading glasses – put in an old pair that you don’t use anymore.   12.  FREE (you already have them)  Prescription medications: if not able to place in dedicated “fire drill” evacuation bag, make sure you know where the medications are so they can be grabbed quickly and stuffed in the bag. 13.   $5-$15 N-95 particulate respirator masks (3 each)  MUST BE N-95 MASKS!  Do not substitute any other type of face mask! For each adult bag:  $30 up depending on your thrift store finds. For each child backpack or rolling book bag:  $15 up  For small/medium dogs/cats:  $20-40 up depending on price of used crates


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Renata–in my opinion, having discussions NOW, BEFORE they are needed is the best route.    There is no substitute for family members being able to say, “Hey!   Renata was really smart!  She told us if there was a communications black out that we should text (NOT call, TEXT) Aunt xxx or Uncle xxx in (distant location/state).   She told us that if we can’t communicate, we should all try to meet up at (local destination 1) or (local destination 2).   Once we reach either location 1 or 2, leave a specific note if anyone has to go out to try to look for others.    I live in Southern California, wildfire and earthquake country.   Dad and I were burned out completely in 2003, and dad burned out again in 2007.   In 2011, there was a 3 state and part of Mexico blackout.  That’s 3 different occasions in the past 19 years when there was ZERO communication.   In 2003, I didn’t have a cellphone, nor did many of my family or extended family–it was all landlines, and the telephone lines burned.   No internet.  No facebook.   No Twitter.  The Cedars Wildfire displaced about 2500 families and businesses in a few days.  Nobody had even thought of not being able to communicate in 2003.    I knew people who were unable to locate family and friends for weeks.    I was fortunate and had 3 family homes that didn’t burn, so we all went to one of those homes.   It took about 6 months before the electrical and telephone lines were re-strung and operational.    Not surprisingly, the wealthier, in-town areas were a priority over rural towns.     The hour-by-hour news focused on the wealthier, in-town areas and virtually nothing was said about the 1,000’s of people in what San Diegans call “the backcountry” or where safety could be found. In 2007, it was better, but again, the backcountry areas which burned were barely covered by the news.    A lot of folks had cel phones by now, but the cel towers and landline towers/lines burned again.   Virtually nothing in the hour-by-hour disaster news had information for 1,000’s of people looking for information and safety. The  Massive 2011 Southwest Blackout was terrifying.  Everybody panicked, tried to use cel phones at the same time, and crashed everything.   Zero communication.   Lots of rumors:   North Korea nuclear attack?   Cyber attack?   Terrorist attack?    In 2011,  I was the Auntie who picked up the 3 grade school kids if mom or dad got caught in traffic.    The power went out at about 3 pm on a week day.   It was hot, and I figured I’d cool off at the local Denny’s.   Denny’s was dark.    Tried to call, cel phone dead.  Drove to kid’s elementary school and saw total chaos.  Teachers were ok for the most part, but some were crying.   Nobody could reach the parents.   Parents couldn’t reach the school.  Nobody knew why there was no electricity or phone of any kind, landline or cel.   Nobody knew if we were being attacked. I collected all 3 of my kids and waited there in case I needed to stuff other kids in my car and take them home.   Once the parents for the additional 5 kids showed up in person, I headed for home.   Normally, the trip took 13 minutes.    It took 55 minutes to get home–gridlock.   The parents didn’t get home for nearly 5 hours.    They knew I would have gone to the school, because I was the emergency backup to get the kids, so they drove by the school, saw it deserted, then went to their house. When the parents got home, I was at their house with all 3 kids.   I made a dash home for medicines and my pet.   We locked the gates and went into full prepper mode.   The only way to get news was on the car radio.  It said it could be days or weeks before power restored because nobody knew what the H*** was going on.   Power was only out for 12 hours, but, it was a loooooooong 12 hours.   I couldn’t sleep because I use a CPAP for breathing.   At 2 am, the 5 year old came and crawled in with me because she was scared.  I took her outside with some blankets and pillows and we laid in the driveway and looked up at the constellations and I showed her Orion.  I told her to remember this night of total darkness with no electricity and enjoy the stars and remember not to be afraid if it ever happened again.

@HappySoul and OP and others on this thread–Although I don’t post or even visit this site often, it is IMO, the best “sane” site.   Had to laugh at M.E. Contributer below, “Will I be sad if I never get to use my titanium spork?  No.   Do I love being able to compare titanium sporks?? Absolutely!” My niece and I enjoy the heck out of “comparing titanium sporks” and other stuff.   We do a lot of research before making a commitment.   We have spent the past 8-10 years adding to our gear/emergency food etc. as we had a little extra money here or there.   I’ve always planned multiple redundancies and we pretty much know that there will be extra people in addition to our own 6 in the family.    Unless it’s a wildfire, stay-in-place is our first/second/third option.  Bug-out or walking is waaaaay last. It’s expensive to prep!   Even doing this over a decade and utilizing sales and dollar stores and Walmarts etc., I figure about $30,000 ($3,000/annually/$250 a month) has gotten us to the point that 6-10 people could function if all the lights went out/the water shut off/cars don’t run/ for 4-7 months without leaving our home.    $250 a month for 10 years for “insurance” is a lot!  To many of my family, friends, and neighbors, that would be a crazy amount to spend on stuff to prepare for something that we hope will never happen.  Prepping also takes a LOT of space!   For 6-10 people, it can suck up an entire 14’x14′ room.    With all that said, we are all absolutely ok with the knowledge that a wildfire could wipe it all out in hours.   That’s why we have traditional home/auto/health insurance.    Being prepared mentally AND financially to leave BEFORE the s**t hits the fan means being safe.   It means we won’t fall into the normalcy bias mindset.  It means we won’t be caught in a traffic jam trying to evacuate, won’t be unable find a room when none are available (we can stay in the car if we have to), won’t be able to get cash when the banks are shut and ATM’s overwhelmed or have enough gas in our usually not less than half full cars.    It is also wonderfully comforting to know that each family member (even those that think we’ve gone off the deep-end of prepping), can think outside-the-box and find the safest way regardless of what may happen.   That’s worth more than $250 a month for 10 years in my book.

In an arid area (like mine in southern California), do the best you can.   I strongly recommend multiples of these products to filter water: Sawyer mini-filters (buy whenever on sale and have multiples)  —  Also Lifestraw (buy whenever on sale and have multiples)   FYI, the multiples are for cars and other people like friends and neighbors who are NOT prepared if everybody suddenly needs water.   They are also perfect barter and small enough and inexpensive enough to have a lot on hand.   The Sawyer mini’s are the best and don’t have shelf-life expiration. Water BOB – one for each bathtub –our family of 5 used 3 WaterBOB’s (with separately purchased, battery powered siphon pumps) for 2-1/2 weeks when the water line to our rural property was broken.   Took showers, did laundry, re-filled 5 gallon jugs at niece’s home nearby during the 2-1/2 weeks.  Not fun, but worked. Berkey Water filters (you may need to be sneaky and purchase from Texas or a state that will actually ship it to California).   These can be used to filter pool water, dirty water, etc. Store extra bottled water.   Although it may go against other preparedness advice, I personally feel comfortable storing bottled water for years and would absolutely let my family drink it no matter how old it was IF I have a Sawyer or Berkey to filter it.   If it’s an emergency, I’m not gonna say, “Oh heck!   This bottled water’s been in my garage/trunk/attic/pantry since 2010.   I better not drink it and die of thirst because it might have some plastic chemicals that have leached into it.”   

Bare bones: 1.  FREE Most important – review your insurance policies (homeowner/renter/landlord) annually. 2.  FREE  Pre-arrange with each person in your dwelling to have the same primary out-of-state contact in case of emergency who can receive calls and post updates on social media.  Put it in each person’s  cel phone under EMERGENCY  3.  FREE Pre-arrange a primary AND secondary place to meet if it becomes chaotic during an emergency.  (Cell phones often don’t work during emergencies because of damage to the towers or because the system around the disaster zone is overloaded–see #2 above).   Put in the notes section of the cel phone EMERGENCY contact. 4.  FREE Pre-arrange and provide written permission to have others pick up any children in the dwelling in case you cannot get them yourself.   Explain this to the child(ren).  Put the names/phone numbers/addresses of these person(s) in the notes section of each person’s cel phone EMERGENCY contact. 5.  $5-$20 Buy used piece of rolling luggage at a thrift store.   Size:  same as what would fit under a seat in an airplane or under a bed or on a closet shelf. ($5 -$20 per piece of luggage).   Each adult in the dwelling should have an individual piece of rolling luggage OR a two adults can combine their luggage.   Each child should have a small, used backpack or rolling book bag (like used in elementary/middle school).     These bags should be dedicated to emergency use only!   Never “borrow” things from these bags intending to put them back later!   These are designed to be  bags that you pack and store under bed or in closet where you can forget about them unless needed.   For example, a family with 2 adults and 2 children aged 7 and 9 may need 1 piece of luggage for adults, two small, used backpack or rolling book bag for each child.   These will be your emergency “grab and run for safety” (i.e., fire drill) bags that you will fill. 6.   FREE Go to each person’s closet and pick out a complete change of clothing, including a coat, socks, old-broken-in comfortable shoes/underwear/rain gear etc.    Usually this is free because you can pick the ugly stuff you purchased and never wear.  For children, put in clothing/shoes/etc. that are 1-3 sizes larger than needed in case you forget to update their bag and their stuff is too small when needed.  (Hand-me-downs from stair-step-kids are great.) FREE Have each child choose a comfort item (stuffed animal, game, blanket) to put in their “Fire Drill” bag.   7.  $10-$40+ PETS – Buy a carrier at a thrift store for dog/cat.  Go to Dollar Store and purchase a can of pop-top wet pet food, small bag of kibble (or make up small pest-proof packages from your existing pet food), leash, water bowl, food bowl, baby blanket, 2 liter bottle of water. Put all these supplies in the carrier in a bag and stuff in the carrier.   Write your name/address/phone/pet’s name in Sharpie on the outside of the carrier.  When ready to run, put in pet, tie supplies to top of crate and go.   (Pets go missing during evacuations and in shelters!) NOTE:  Large animals require a much different evacuation plan which will NOT be covered here.  Make your plans ahead of time!  If you have horses/livestock, etc., make SURE they are trained to load in horse trailers!  If you can’t load livestock, let them loose after you spray paint your phone number on the hide of each animal.   8.  $5-10 In adult bags:  Paper maps of the geographic region!   Do NOT rely on cel phone GPS! 9.  $10-20 In adult bags:  New, unused iphone AND android cables AND chargers.  (They don’t need to be high quality, cheap ones will do just fine.)  These are NEVER to be “borrowed” or taken out of the Emergency Go Bag!     10.  $5 per person’s bag:  From Dollar Store three cans of easily opened, ready to eat, things like Spaghettios, a bottle of water, roll of toilet paper.    11.  FREE – if anyone needs prescription or reading glasses – put in an old pair that you don’t use anymore.   12.  FREE (you already have them)  Prescription medications: if not able to place in dedicated “fire drill” evacuation bag, make sure you know where the medications are so they can be grabbed quickly and stuffed in the bag. 13.   $5-$15 N-95 particulate respirator masks (3 each)  MUST BE N-95 MASKS!  Do not substitute any other type of face mask! For each adult bag:  $30 up depending on your thrift store finds. For each child backpack or rolling book bag:  $15 up  For small/medium dogs/cats:  $20-40 up depending on price of used crates

@A2 – I would like readers of this thread to read this article from The Press Democrat, 2016, about the difficulties of re-building a year after the wildfire.  Here is the hyperlink:  A year later, Valley fire’s massive toll in Lake County means long, difficult recovery ahead In the original post for this forum thread, I posted two hyperlinks to  articles I wrote that were published  in 2018 in the East County Magazine:  “Peace of Mind” 3-10 Minute Evacuation Plan for Wildfires, Part 1, and “Peace of Mind” 3-10 Minute Evacuation Plan for Wildfires, Part 2.   The one year follow-up article hyperlink above nicely summarizes the long, difficult recovery after wildfires.    Packing a go-bag is fun, being prepared by knowing how to start fires and boil water with flint and magnesium is fun, learning how to apply a tourniquet is fun.   Learning about and thinking about and planning to be prepared is fun.  Insurance is NOT fun.  Giving up Starbucks, movies, cable,  eating out, buying cheaper cigarettes/wine/beer/soda; none of these things are “fun”.   To be truly and honestly prepared to have “Peace of Mind” if you must evacuate during a wildfire isn’t just about having preparedness supplies and the mindset to leave, it’s also about doing the paperwork BEFORE a wildfire.  It’s about trimming your budget, being financially responsible, and waiting to buy guns/bullets/band aids if you cannot afford insurance (renter’s insurance, homeowner insurance, landlord insurance, car insurance, health insurance).    I’m totally envious of A2’s pre-packed tear-drop trailer and Bob’s plan to evacuate by boat is needed.  I would love to have a tear-drop trailer and boat that I could pre-pack, park, and be ready to drive away.    Can’t afford it.  It has taken me and my niece 8 years to build up our emergency supplies after the double whammy of the 2003 Cedars Wildfire recovery and rebuild, and then the sudden, catastrophic illness and death of my sister.  These events nearly took everything we had to just stay afloat; there was nothing left to buy Mountain House food or fancy lanterns.    In the time between these financial hits, we just hunkered down, did without, and eventually reached a point where savings and purchases of Mountain House food and other supplies became possible.   @A2 said above, “And that is why I prep”.  (High five, A2, been there, done that.) I say, “That is why I prep and have become an insurance fanatic.”    I am fully aware that we may need to flee a future wildfire and have all of our preparedness supplies destroyed if our homes burn.  I’m ok with that, because I have insurance.


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