Throughout the U.S. thousands of all-hazard preparedness events took place on September 30, during FEMA's America's PrepareAthon. I had the privilege of attending one of those events at the Los Angeles Fire Department Training Center where fire department personnel and NFPA encouraged pet and horse owners to take the steps necessary to get their animals ready for potential wildfire evacuations.
LAFD Chief Ralph Terrazas, along with the department’s Community Risk Reduction and Equestrian Units teamed up with the Los Angeles
Department of Animal Services and NFPA to encourage wildland urban interface residents to include their pets and horses in family evacuation plans.
Parents were also encouraged to empower their teens and pre-teens to take an active role in organizing and building animal evacuation kits and giving them an opportunity to get involved in developing the family’s tools that will increase their readiness for natural disasters.
Chief Terrazas emphasized that residents be cognizant that wildfires often move extremely fast and in those circumstances there may only be enough time to grab items that were pre-packed long before the fire started. Understanding how to evacuate during both a house fire and a wildfire takes planning and practice, and everyone needs to know the two types of fires require dramatically different responses. In a house fire never stop to collect any type of belongings or animals; in wildfires you may possibly have time to collect items and pack them prior to evacuating. Safety officials stressed you should never endanger your personal well-being in a wildfire to collect belongings when the fire is close; life safety should always be the highest priority and evacuating when fire is near, or when notified through an emergency alert is extremely imperative.
Ensure you and your family know and practice the steps needed to leave quickly and safely during an evacuation!