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Between wildfires and winter storms, having essentials packed and ready to go is a must. But, when was the last time you checked on the contents of the Go Bags? Expiration dates on food stuff, the winter sweaters packed for the storm – check them. Then, move on to the tools you use to maintain defensible space around your home, and finally check your vehicle.

Calendars are your friend

If you have any mobile device, laptop or desktop, you have digital calendars at your disposal. Or use a paper calendar to create reminders.

From checking batteries in smoke detectors, having your fire extinguishers (both in the home and the car) serviced and certified, scheduling maintenance on your lawn mower, weed eater and chainsaws – set bi-annual or yearly reminders on your calendar.

Vehicle safety

If you evacuate, chances are you will drive out of your neighborhood to the family meeting point or an evacuation center. Make sure all the lights, including turn signals, work on your vehicle. Regular maintenance includes checking the windshield wipers, tire pressure, air and oil filters. Keeping the gas tank as close to full as possible might be an expensive proposition right now, but running out of gas could be fatal.

Check the car’s interior as well. Fire extinguisher, go bag, phone charger, radio (tuned to your local stations) maps, and hats and masks in case you need to get out of the car.

Contact lists

Your family emergency plan needs regular updates too. Have the kids changed schools? Is your out of the area contact still valid? If you have medical details on the emergency plan like prescriptions, doctor’s contacts, are they up to date?

While you are updating that information, make sure your insurance certificates are included on ta memory stick with a current inventory of your home and valuables.

Inside your home

Have you made any changes to your home’s layout like built an addition or added a new outdoor building? Do you have enough fire extinguishers and do you know how to safely and effectively use them? Remember PASS:

  • Pull the pin. Hold the extinguisher with the nozzle pointing away from you and release the locking mechanism.
  • Aim low. Point the extinguisher at the base of the fire.
  • Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly.
  • Sweep the nozzle from side-to-side.
There are five primary types of fire extinguishers, each designed to put out different kinds of fires.

Outside maintenance

The beauty of living in the area is being surrounded by nature. The problem is nature is constantly trying to reclaim territory. Pruning bushes, cutting grasses and limbing up trees to maintain defensible space is a never-ending but rewarding task. When planting new vegetation, keep in mind how that ornamental bush will look once fully matured and space appropriately.

Keep your tools in good working order and plan ahead for service, if you can’t wait to get your weed eater back, rent one.