Wildfires: Preparing for the Unthinkable


Living in Southern California means leaving with the threat of wildfire. With this year’s fire season behind us, a lot of people were left wondering “what if it was us” after social media and news stories documented many life-threatening and tragic stories of families and their pets.

There is one key thing to surviving wildfire: be prepared. There is no time like the present to get your household ready if the inevitable happens.

Have a Plan

Take a few moments and decide what household objects are nonreplaceable. For many people, these are photos, mementos from loved ones passed, or family treasures that are one of a kind. It’s as simple as having a conversation about what you can not leave behind, and what can easily be replaced.

Documents – Any type of document including birth certificates, licenses, and court documents can be hard and time-consuming to replace, and you may need these for insurance information.

There are few objects that cannot be replaced, but your family and pets can and will never be replaced. Having a plan for your pets is just as important as having one for your family.

Your Pet

To the American Public, a dog or a cat is like a family member. Therefore many people include their pets in their fire safety plan. Going over this concept with your family and having the right tools can help your pet make it out of a dangerous situation alive.

Have a leash, collar, and food nearby, if not already in the vehicle. Many time when fire approaches you is scrambling to have things ready. There’s no reason not to keep a spare leash collar and baggie of food in your car all year long. Have enough for each pet.

  • Cats and other small animals – Many times cats are the ones left behind because families cannot find their beloved pets once panic ensues. Make sure you have the proper amount of carriers for any small animal in your house. You are going to need your hands so having pets properly secured in carriers means if you have to leave them for a while they are safe and secure. Make sure these carriers are marked with your name and phone number. Something as easy as a permanent marker could mean the difference in getting your pet back to you or not.
  • Livestock – One of the hardest thing to do as a livestock owner is to leave your farm animals behind. Ideally, many farmers and equestrians have a stock trailer, but 9 times out of 10 that one trailer is not enough for all the livestock. In this case, many farmers and equestrians are told to leave the gates open so animals can move out of harm’s way. Having the proper brand or identification can mean getting your animals back. During the Del Mar racetrack fire, many of the horses who survived were solely dependent on the grooms who braved the blaze to open stall doors. Animals instinctively know how to stay away from danger. Mane and tail tags with identification can be kept close to your livestock and put in easily if you have to prepare for a wildfire coming your way. BUT you must have the mane and tail tags filled out and ready to go.

Surviving a wildfire for you and your pets comes down to nothing more than being PREPARED. It may not sound like much but simply asking over the dinner table what you and your family would take resonates and can be used later when you are in a situation that means you have to leave your home. Take time this year BEFORE fire season to talk to your family and make some decisions about being more prepared for wildfire!

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