Do you have an emergency plan? Does it include your pets?
What would you take if you had only minutes to escape?
These questions have been on the minds of Cowichan Valley residents as we watch and read about the fire in Fort McMurray, which, by last Friday morning had burned more than 100,000 hectares and forced the evacuation of a city of 80,000 people.
While reports are that firefighters have managed to preserve most of the community’s key service buildings thus far, including the airport, hospital, etc., flames have claimed over 2,400 homes.
Tales from the fire zone have included many from people who didn’t have even hours to prepare for departure — they were literally running out the door with the clothes on their backs while they saw the neighbour’s house consumed by flames, and theirs was next.
So what would you grab if it were you?
The first and most obvious thing is to make sure that all of the human beings are safe — kids, elderly parents and grandparents etc.
Then there are your four-legged friends. For most people they are far more vital than any material possessions could ever be and making sure they’re making their escape with you is key.
Many were left behind in the Fort McMurray evacuation for various reasons, and firefighters have reported using scarce downtime to try to rescue as many of them as possible.
If you were at home when a disaster happens, do you have a carrying case for your pet handy? Do you have an emergency bag with some food, water and other supplies?
It’s important to remember to include our four-legged family members in our emergency planning.
Most of us have a mental list of some of the practical and irreplaceable things like your purse/wallet/identification, laptop or backup hard drive, food and water in the former case, and family photos and mementos in the latter, that we would grab in an emergency.
If you have mere moments, it pays to have thought a bit about this in advance, so you know where your key items/people/pets are and can round everything up fast.
It’s also a good idea to make sure everyone in the household has the same set of priorities and is working on the same plan. Everyone can be given particular jobs, making a necessary exodus even faster. Planning can help control the fear and chaos of the moment.
Fort McMurray is like a worst case scenario — though loss of life has, incredibly, been very small.
It’s worth considering what you’d do if it were you running out the door.