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Grab-and-go: What to bring when evacuating a wildfire

Fires have different levels of severity, so a checklist can help you prepare early and save some stress.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Wildfire season continues to rage across the Pacific Northwest. The season is already six weeks ahead of schedule, according to the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Prepping early in case of emergency can help save some stress. 

The last thing you want to think about when trying to escape a fire is "do I have everything?"

Fires have different levels of severity. In both Washington and Idaho, they can be thought of as READY, SET, GO. 

LEVEL 1 - READY

This is the getting ready stage. Conditions could get worse, so you want to have your go bag ready. 

LEVEL 2 - SET

This is when you are getting set to leave. Be prepared to leave at a moment's notice. 

LEVEL 3 - GO

This is when you need to get out and go now. You are in immediate danger and emergency services may not be able to help at this point. 

In case of an emergency, the Greater Spokane Emergency Management team has an evacuation list. With these evacuations come different needs. Having a bag ready with the essentials can help. 

For Level 3 evacuations, you want to be out in about five minutes. 

  • Emergency folder 
    • Passports, IDs, birth certificates
    • Wallet with cash, cell phone, charges, keys
    • Medications and medical devices, such as a cane
    • Pet supplies
    • Special items for infants, elderly or disabled family members

For Level 2, you have more time. You want to be out in about 30 minutes: 

  • All that is listed in Level 3
  • First aid kit
  • Camping equipment and toolkit
  • One change of clothing and shoes per person, one blanket or sleeping bag per person
  • A weather or disaster radio
  • Flashlight
  • Extra batteries
  • A three-day supply of water and non-perishable foods
  • Sanitation supplies, such as hygiene products like wipes and pads
  • Smoke or dust masks
  • Extra car keys, glasses 
  • Important memorabilia like journals, photobooks

For Level 1, you want to get out in about an hour:

  • All that is listed in 2 and 3
  • Comfort items like books, games, toys for kids
  • Paper and pencil

For those in Spokane County, another great tool is ALERT Spokane. By signing up online, you ensure emergency alerts are able to reach you. When you register, you have the option of adding multiple addresses and phone numbers. If English is not your first language, you can also choose to sign up and/or receive messages in Spanish, Russian or Chinese.