On Monday, I walk out on my deck and the air is filled with smoke and the winds are up. I’ve lived in the California foothills long enough to know a fire is close. My “danger” meter was going off.

Shoot, I wish I had my evacuation bag packed and ready to go, the one I’ve been putting off.

Do you have your evacuation bag ready?

I texted my family and asked them if they had an emergency evacuation list. Of course, my mom, who is incredibly tech savvy and 84 years old, immediately replies with an evacuation list and other information. Thank you Mom!

I am thinking, “Hey, I have some time here, I’ll reasonably sit down and go through this list.” NOT!!!

Isn’t this how we typically think, that we will always have a tomorrow to do what is important?

And I found myself without the luxury of a tomorrow. The time was now. Within the hour, we got a Code Red Emergency Alert; the call you never want to get: EVACUATE IMMEDIATELY! EVACUATE IMMEDIATELY!

Within a matter of minutes, we had to decide what was important to take and what wasn’t.

Watch this video for what I did that worked.

What would you choose to throw in your car? What is important to you beyond the essentials of credit cards and glasses?

Are you prepared to throw important documents, pictures, and irreplaceable memorabilia into your car and leave your home maybe permanently?

I was not as prepared as my Virgo tendencies would have loved. However, where I fell short  with  making my lists and packing, I made up for with my mindset.

When I felt like panicking, I was able to press my internal pause button. Staying relatively calm, I quickly grabbed the things that were important. My husband and I actually impressed ourselves with how well we packed.

We felt fortunate to be home together when it happened and that we had time enough to grab what we did. The upside was that we had a safe space to land during the COVID-19 pandemic—my daughter’s house that was one hour away.

Although this was a disruption in plans and schedules, I was able to spend time with my new grandbaby and her family.

The good news is that our home was spared. Fire danger is real. Therefore, planning for an evacuation will reduce stress while your fire meter is going off.

Here is what I’ve learned from my experience: 
  • Pack your evacuation bag!
  • Have your evacuation plan in place before you need it. For example, what to leave on and off at the house (see Cal Fire website Prepare for Wildfire)
  • Have a home inventory. (Link to StateFarm inventory)
  • Put important documents in a safe deposit box
  • Put all digital photos on a hard drive in a safe deposit box

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”  –Benjamin Franklin

I am so grateful that we are safe and our home was spared. I am grateful my friends and neighbors are back at their homes. I am grateful for all the friends and family that reached out to me to provide support, love, and prayers.

I am grateful to all of the firefighters and others who are fighting the fires that are currently raging across California. They saved our home!!!

My heart goes out to the people in California whose homes are threatened or have been lost to the fire, and pray they find a safe space to land.

To your resilience and wellbeing,