The U.S. Forest Service recommends taking a seasonal break to create or review and improve a personal preparedness plan for emergencies.

Courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service

Although emergencies and disasters can occur at any moment, the winter months – when wildfire risk is at its lowest – are a good time to create a preparedness plan and identify personal needs and prioritize tasks without the urgency of an emergency, according to a Forest Service press release. The plan should be shared with every member of the household so everyone is on the same page in the event of an emergency, especially if family members will be at work, daycare or school.

  • Sit down with family members to discuss topics such as signing up for alerts, developing a shelter plan, identifying evacuation routes and a meeting location, and creating a family communication plan with everyone’s phone number. This is also a good time to make sure each family member has a “go bag” with emergency supplies and knows where their bag is stored.
  • Consider specific needs for your household, how those needs will be met and who will be responsible for what. Specifics for your household could include dietary and medical needs, including prescriptions and medical equipment; ages of family members; pets and service animals; disabilities or access needs; languages spoken in the household; and cultural and religious considerations.
  • Write down your plan or fill out one of the forms provided on or and make sure every family member has a copy.
  • Practice your plan with your household and run through various scenarios, such as an emergency occurring on a weekday versus a weekend.

Having an emergency preparedness plan makes it is less likely for important tasks and information to fall through the cracks during the chaos of an emergency. If your plan needs to be implemented, it will hopefully be less stressful because you have tailored your plan to your own priorities and checklists.

Now that you have a personal preparedness plan for your family and pets, here are some other helpful resources for wildfire preparedness: Living with Fire: A guide for the HomeownerFirewise USA® and Home Hazard Assessment Guide and Worksheet.