Preparing for a Disaster

Families across Texoma tonight are still recovering from weeks of devastating wildfires.
Homes and property have burned and become black-charred land.
Many families had the terrifying experience of having just minutes to evacuate their homes.
With the wildfire threat still looming we decided to take a closer look on how to prepare your family for a disaster evacuation.

Before we put together a disaster kit, we need to find out more about the evacuation process.  Wichita County Sheriff David Duke has great insight on wildfire evacuations from years of experience.

"We dispatch deputies out there immediately, said Sheriff Duke,  "If its an event such as we had the past Friday with the high winds, we will put extra people out to get to the areas quicker to be able to evacuate people from their homes or businesses."

In a fire situation, conditions can change in just moments making every decision critical.

"Sometimes you roll up there and its too late," said Duke.  "The back of the house may already have fire on it.  Five minutes can be a life and death, one minute can be a life and death situation."

With every second counting, it is best to be with a kit full of what you need.  Here is the list provided by the Texas Forest Service:

Three gallons of water per person per day (try for about 3 days)
Non-perishable food for all family and pets
First-aid kit
Flashlights, battery-powered radio, and extra batteries
An extra set of car keys, credit cards or cash
Sanitation supplies
Extra eyeglasses or contacts
Important family documents and contact numbers
Map marked with evacuation routes
Prescriptions and medications
Family photos and other irreplaceable items
Easily carried valuables
Laptop and/or external hard drives
Chargers for phones and laptops
(always have a pair of old shoes and a flashlight handy in the case of a sudden night evacuation)

Having the emergency kit is great, but there are more steps you can take to be prepared for any disaster.  We decided to create a mock evacuation to show the dos and don'ts of planning your escape from a disaster.  We took three photographers into the Sellers family home to capture every moment of this five minute evacuation.

Overall, the Sellers did very well with the five minutes that they had.  They grabbed most of the essential items they would need to survive for a few days.  They even had time to grab some personal belongings along the way.  However, they confessed that they had not planned on where they would go once they evacuated!  Knowing where you will travel to is just as important as what you take with you.

To see the evacuation in its entirety click, check out the video labeled evacuation at the top of this story.  Remember that this was a created situation and you may have less than five minutes in a real evacuation.  If you have very little time, remember that it is better to leave with nothing than not make it out at all.

There are a lot more tips from the Texas Forest Service, just click the link below!