Go bag basics

You can’t take everything with you when you’re evacuating due to a wildfire or other life-threatening emergency. A lightweight “go bag” is not like the emergency supplies you maintain at your home in case you have to shelter in place for days.

A go bag has the essentials you’ll need — medicines to a portable phone charger — that you can carry if you have to flee on foot or use public transportation.

First, here’s what to do now to prepare:

5 steps you can take right now to be ready for Oregon wildfire season

“Keep your yard green, have a plan to leave and grab valuables you have gathered in one place,” says Portland Fire & Rescue spokesman Rob Garrison.

It’s hard to think clearly when you’re told to evacuate. This makes it critical to have a duffel bag, backpack or rolling cargo bag – a “go bag” – ready to grab as you race out the door.

Assemble essentials in one place. Many of the must-have supplies may already be in your home, like hygiene items, but you’ll need duplicates so you can access them fast in an emergency.

Have a pair of long cotton pants, a long-sleeve cotton shirt or jacket, face covering, pair of hard-sole shoes or boots, and protective goggles near the go bag to put on before leaving.

Also pack a lightweight travel bag for your pet and identify a place to stay that will accept animals. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) app should list open shelters during an active disaster in your area.

Consider the color of your portable disaster kit. Some people want it red so it’s easy to spot, while others buy an ordinary-looking backpack, duffel or rolling cargo bag that won’t draw attention to the valuables inside. Some people remove patches identifying the bag as a disaster or first-aid kit.

Keep bags as light as possible by including only essentials:

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radar live app offers real-time radar images and severe weather alerts.

The Eton FRX3 American Red Cross emergency NOAA weather radio comes with a USB smartphone charger, LED flashlight and red beacon ($69.99). The alert function automatically broadcasts any emergency weather alerts for your area. Keep the compact radio (6.9 inches tall by 2.6 inches wide) charged with its solar panel, hand-crank or a built-in rechargeable battery.

A portable emergency radio ($49.98) with real-time NOAA weather reports and Public Emergency Alert System information can be powered by a hand-crank generator, solar panel, rechargeable batteries or wall power adapter. See other solar-powered or battery-powered weather radios.

Smoke in your home: How to clear the air, clean up and prevent fires from spreading

This is what you can do now to stop smoke from creeping into your home and tainting air and furnishings.

If it’s safe to stay inside your home when a wildfire is far away, have an alternative source of power in case fire, smoke and particulate matter cause voltage lines to arc and trip offline.

Install weather sealing around gaps and plan for you and your pets to stay in a room with the fewest windows, preferably without a fireplace, vent or other openings to the outside. If you need one, keep a portable air cleaner or air conditioner running in that room.

Go bag basics

First aid kit: The First Aid Only Store has an all-purpose first aid emergency kit for $19.50 with 299 items and a total weight of one pound. Add a pocket-size American Red Cross Emergency First Aid Guide or download the free Red Cross emergency app.

See other first aid kits

The American Red Cross and Ready.gov, which educates people on what to do to prepare for natural and manmade disasters, from earthquakes to wildfires, recommends every household has a basic disaster kit with supplies for three days to cover your family and pets if you are evacuated and two weeks of supplies if you’re hunkering down in your home.

You may already have most of the critical items. Replenish what you’ve used or add what you don’t have. Refresh and update water and food every six months.

You can buy ready-made or customized emergency preparedness kits or you can build your own (here’s a checklist in case core services or utilities fail).

Water:If water pipes break or the water supply is contaminated, you’ll need a source for a gallon of water a day per person to drink, cook with and clean. Your pet needs a gallon of water a day too. Portland Earthquake Kits explains how to safely store water. Containers should be certified free of BPA-containing plastics and specifically made to hold drinking water.

Food:It’s recommended that you have enough nonperishable food for two weeks, according to the American Red Cross. Experts recommend that nonperishable, easy-to-prepare food, like canned, ready-to-eat soup, not be super salty.

If you want to freeze meals, consider having a backup freezer.

Fire smart landscaping doesn’t have to look like the desert

Here are tips to settle the tug-of-war between saving water and keeping landscape green as a fire prevention measure.

Portland Fire & Rescue has a safety checklist that includes making sure electrical and heating equipment are in good working condition and not overheating.

Here’s what you should do to make sure your family and your home are prepared for fires:

Fire prevention starts in the yard: ‘I don’t know which precaution will save my house so I do as much as I can’

Here are big and small chores you can do to reduce the risk that your home and neighborhood burn in a wildfire.

Other tips

It’s always a good idea to have an emergency kit in your car.

Redfora has car kits packed with roadside essentials and core emergency items to help with a highway breakdown or to have the emergency essentials ready in case of wildfire, earthquake, flood, power outage. With each purchase, 1% is donated through Redfora Reliefto a family that is suddenly homeless, disaster relief agencies in need of support or smart prevention projects.

— Janet Eastman | 503-294-4072

jeastman@oregonian.com | @janeteastman

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