If an evacuation order is given, as we saw over the past week in parts of Point Reyes, you may have as little as a few minutes or as much as a few days to prepare. The experts say to prepare your pets for the quick evacuation, which in some cases might mean hours of training to get skittish animals comfortable with going into their crates, or might be as simple as scooping up your dog, grabbing their go bag and hopping in the car.
The NFPA has a pet evacuation list here, which outlines things to bring and some steps for preparing to evacuate your pets. In addition to the obvious items you'll want to bring like a leash, harness, food, water, and bowls, they recommend using a large tote and plastic bags labeled with a sharpie to store vaccination records, medications, ownership records, microchip paperwork, and if your pet has special needs it's a good idea to document those, too. You might also want to include some printed photos of your pet in case you needed to post a missing sign or prove your ownership.
We are lucky to have some thoughtful and qualified pet owners in YFSG who have provided their pet evacuation plans below.
Now as to the beasts themselves:
Cats are high maintenance, love their routine and do not like new things/environment. Cats are not like dogs…Most will not come when called and a trip in a car is not a thrilling adventure. For cats the car is taking them out of their comfort zone, and for most cats, a carrier equals a trip to the veterinarian.
Unless you are the lucky owner of a cat who doesn’t mind anything…in which case grab the cat and put it in a carrier…care will need to be taken not to spook them when an evacuation order is received.
Make sure your neighbors know about your pets. Exchange pet information and house keys with a few trusted friends and neighbors. You may not be home in the event of an evacuation, and neighbors can evacuate your pets for you. Make sure to discuss this with them beforehand.
What do you keep in your go-bag for your pet?
An extra leash, small bag of dog food (enough for a week), a collapsible water bowl and food bowl. It is not really necessary to have two bowls. You can make it work with one bowl. A flashlight.
Any tips for cat owners?
Placing a cat in a cat carrier can take time. In the event of an approaching fire, you can use a pillowcase to safety get them out of the house and into your vehicle.
Those lightning storms Saturday night were crazy, and I would have slept right through them if Natalie didn't wake me up. By the time I was out of bed, lightning strikes had started fires on King Mountain in Larkspur, which is only a couple miles South of us, and Mt. Barnabe in Samuel P. Taylor, which is only a few miles West of us. It could have easily been Bald Hill, Sky Ranch, or one of the other high points in our immediate vicinity.
The conditions when the fires started were an evacuation disaster in the making. It was before 4am so most people were asleep. All of Marin was under a Red Flag Warning, which is the highest alert issued by National Weather Service for fire danger, and typically corresponds to hot, dry conditions, and high wind. Many homes, including mine, were experiencing a power outage due to rolling blackouts, so internet was out and cell phones were not fully charged. Our cell coverage is spotty, and I don't have a landline. So, even though I'm signed up for Alert Marin, I don't know if evacuation alerts would have gotten through.
These conditions are becoming more common for us in Marin. The fire season, the time between our first and last Red Flag Days each year, is now about 7 months (June-Nov). During Red Flag Days, when fire danger is highest, we are also more likely to have our power shut off by PG&E for a PSPS. Without a landline or solid cell signal and a charged phone, it's difficult to receive evacuation alerts, which is why I finally--after eight years living here--bought an emergency radio.
I bought a Midland WR120 with weather radio and alert, which you can buy on Amazon for $30. It was recommended and tested by Firesafe Marin, and they provided programming instructions, which made it pretty easy to set up. There are others that have more features, but make sure that the radio you get has emergency alerts, because that's what will wake you up in the middle of the night if your other notification systems fail.
Here's the link to Amazon where you can buy the Midland WR120 emergency radio.
Here's the link to the programming instructions shared by Firesafe Marin.
Yolansdale Fire Safety Group (YFSG) maintains this website to provide general guidance to our residents. The views expressed herein represent the opinions of our volunteers. They have not been reviewed or approved by any organization that develops wildfire preparedness or safety standards. YFSG expressly disclaims any liability resulting from reliance upon the views or opinions expressed in this website and makes no representations, warranties, or claims of any kind concerning the accuracy or completeness of the information presented on this site.