National Preparedness Month Week 1 – Make a Plan

Release date: 09/01/2021
Sponsored by: County Emergency Management Department, County Emergency Management Division

National preparedness month week 1 - make a plan


Wildfires are one of the main threats we face in Oregon and over the years, they have occurred more often, for longer periods of time and covered more ground. Every year, more and more people are impacted and put at risk because of wildfires in our state. Wildfires are uncontrollable and move fast. They can start in a forested area and quickly make their way to nearby neighborhoods. Even when a wildfire doesn’t reach a neighborhood, it can impact us by putting unhealthy amounts of smoke and ash into the air, destroying landscapes and making hills more vulnerable to landslides during the rainy season.

Wildfire risks include:

  • Hazardous air quality
  • Deforestation / burn scars
  • Evacuation
  • Property destruction
  • Insurance premium increases
  • Road closures and traffic delays
  • Landslides (post wildfire)

Wildfires can be started by escaped debris burning, a lit cigarette tossed on the ground, an unattended campfire, downed powerlines or from natural causes like lightning. When there’s an increased chance that a wildfire could start and could be really bad, officials issue a “red flag warning.” Officials often also issue burn bans to help lessen the risk of starting a wildfire.

Because wildfires are a risk here in Washington County, it’s important to be prepared in case one starts like it did in September of 2020. One of the best ways to be prepared is to make a plan. When it comes to making a plan, there is a lot to consider, for example:

  • How will you communicate with your family?
  • How does communication change if you’re together during the incident or apart?
  • What if you’re on vacation in the area where the hazard occurs? Or have family visiting?
  • Do you need to plan differently based on different hazards?
  • What supplies do you need?

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the different scenarios and what ifs. breaks down planning into four steps: discuss with your family, consider specific needs in your household, fill out a family emergency plan and practice. But even this might seem too time consuming, so the activity below focuses on step one – discuss with your family. You can bring these questions up over dinner or before bed. We’ll also focus on making a plan for wildfires, since September is right in the middle of wildfire season for Washington County.

Activity: Make an evacuation plan.

Ask yourself and discuss with your family:

  • Where will you go if you have to evacuate? Do you have friends or family in the area you can stay with? Will you go to a hotel?
  • How will you get to your destination? Look at a map and identify two routes from your house to your evacuation destination.
  • What items in your home will you need to take with you if you evacuate? Do you know where your critical documents are?
  • Will you be able to work while evacuated? Do you have to physically be at work, or can you telework? What do you need to bring with you when you evacuate so you can work?
  • Remember, if you have pets, make sure your evacuation destination can take them as well. Be sure you pack things they need before evacuating.

Media Contact:

Alita Fitz, Emergency Management Coordinator