Wildfire-ready 101: Safety and personal preparedness | AspenTimes.com

Wildfire-ready 101: Safety and personal preparedness

John T. Mele
Special to the Snowmass Sun

One of the more important things you can do to prepare yourself and your family in the case of a wildfire is to create a “go kit.” A go kit is simply a collection of basic items you or your household may need in the event of an emergency or evacuation.

Try to assemble your kit well in advance of an emergency, as you may have to evacuate at a moment’s notice. This means having your own food, water and other supplies in sufficient quantity to last for at least 72 hours. Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster, but they cannot reach everyone immediately. You might get help in hours, or it might take days. Even if a Red Cross shelter has been established, having your own personal go kit will make life much more comfortable.

Additionally, basic services such as electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment and telephones may be cut off for several days or longer. Your kit should contain items to help you manage during these outages.

Please consider the following when putting together your family supply list:

Emergency supplies

Water, food and sanitary items are important things to have if an emergency happens. Each family’s or individual’s kit should be customized to meet specific needs, such as medications and infant formula. It also should be customized to include important family documents.

Recommended supplies to be included in a basic go kit

One gallon of water per person per day for drinking and sanitation.

At least a three-day supply of nonperishable food.

Battery-powered radio, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Weather Radio with tone alert, and extra batteries for both.

Flashlight and extra batteries.

First-aid kit.

Whistle to signal for help.

Infant formula and diapers if you have an infant.

Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation.

Dust mask or cotton T-shirt to help filter the air.

Plastic sheeting and duct tape for shelter.

Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities.

Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food).

Clothing and bedding

If you live in a cold climate, you must think about warmth. It is possible that the power will be out and you will not have heat. Rethink your clothing and bedding supplies to account for growing children and other family changes. Keep one complete change of warm clothing and shoes per person, including:

A jacket or coat.

Long pants.

A long-sleeve shirt.

Sturdy shoes.

A hat and gloves.

A sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person.

Rain gear.

Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils.

Cash or traveler’s checks and change.

Paper towels.

Fire extinguisher.



Matches in a waterproof container.

Paper and pencil.

Personal hygiene items including feminine supplies.


Household chlorine bleach. You can use bleach as a disinfectant (diluted 9 parts water to 1 part bleach), or in an emergency you also can use it to treat water. Use 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented or color-safe bleach or bleach with added cleaners.

Medicine dropper.

Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, credit cards, identification and bank-account records in a waterproof, portable container.

I have found that one or two large, plastic, clear containers can usually hold all of these necessities. The Red Cross also sells small, organized, emergency 72-hour kits on its website at http://www.redcrossstore.org/item/321406. Also, please check out http://www.swfpd.com for more wildfire-preparedness information.

John T. Mele is the deputy chief/fire marshal of the Snowmass Wildcat Fire Protection District. Reach him at 970-923-2212 or jmele@swfpd.com.