The key to making sure that you and your family safely and successfully respond to a natural disaster or emergency is to prepare before it happens. That’s the reason September’s National Preparedness Month exists, and that’s why PG&E teamed up with the Placer Hills Fire Department to put one local family to the test.
In this video, released in 2021 and just as relevant today, a Sierra Foothills family is put through a simulated wildfire evacuation to demonstrate how being prepared can help bring calm to the chaos.
“You think you’re ready, but are you? It’s scary,” said Michelle Childers, who participated in the disaster readiness drill with her husband Justin and their two children.
PG&E urges all our customers to assess how prepared your family, home and community are for a natural disaster or other emergency, and to take the necessary actions to be ready.
In addition to the video, PG&E’s Safety Action Center website puts valuable resources at your fingertips. You can:
- Take a quiz to find out if you know what to pack in an emergency kit
- Learn how to prepare a kit with six easy steps
- Create an emergency plan
- Learn how to create defensible space around your home
- Watch a special video series: 7 Saturdays to a more fire resistant home
An ‘eye-opening’ experience
For the Childers family, firefighters gave them just 10 minutes to get what they would need, as is often the case in a real evacuation, and leave their home.
“My first instinct was birth certificates, passports, IDs, keys, wallets, because those are the things we’re going to need immediately (if evacuated) to get a hotel, to rebuild. My second initial response was mementos, pictures,” said Justin.
“I’ve never experienced this, I know what I was thinking, but I paused,” said Michelle, describing the first seconds after the knock at the door. “I got a couple of changes of clothes for each of us, got some snacks that I know the kids would eat, and some mementos.”
Although the family did not have go-bags ready during the drill, they grabbed essentials: important documents, changes of clothes and some food.
“I thought they did a really good job,” said Battalion Chief Matt Slusher with the Placer Hills Fire Department. “They worked well together. But what if one of you was not home at the time of an evacuation? What would you prioritize? For example, the kids—if you had to be away for 72 hours, their homework, the things that are important to them because their lives are going to be turned upside down, how do you maintain a level of normalcy?”
“I was motionless,” said Michelle, who is an elementary school teacher. “You need to have a go-bag, container with food and water for 72 hours. This was eye-opening.”
“This life-like emergency drill was a great reminder for all of us to plan what we would do before any kind of natural disaster or other emergency, and to practice how we would respond. It’s muscle memory. You have to practice it to perfect it,” said Joe Wilson, PG&E’s Vice President, North Valley & Sierra Region.
How customers can prepare
Here are some simple guidelines to prepare for an emergency.
- Build or restock your emergency kit with flashlights, fresh batteries, first-aid supplies and cash. Keep face masks and hand sanitizer in your emergency kit.
- Identify backup charging methods for phones and keep printed copies of emergency numbers.
- Plan for medical needs like medications that require refrigeration or devices that need power.
- Keep in mind family members who are elderly, younger children and pets.
- Update your contact information online or by calling PG&E at 1-866-743-6589 during normal business hours so you can receive Public Safety Power Shutoff alerts.
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