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The original item was published from 7/25/2023 9:10:00 PM to 7/26/2023 7:43:44 AM.

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Posted on: July 25, 2023

[ARCHIVED] Wildfire Ready: 10 Tips to Help Prepare Vulnerable Populations for a Wildfire Evacuation

Photo of an elderly female using a walker with a black female caretaker and a photo of a wheelchair

The City of Santa Rosa has made significant enhancements in our ability to alert and warn our community in the event of a disaster, including wildfires. Our goal is to provide early notification whenever possible, so our community has time to safely evacuate. Wildfires can happen at any moment, especially during our local fire season and the threat typically increases during fall. It is especially critical that seniors and those with special needs or disabilities develop and implement their emergency plans. 


  1. 1.) Create an Evacuation Plan: 

Seniors and their families or caregivers should create a personalized evacuation plan. Consider back up mobility accessories, mobility limitations, and any medical conditions or equipment that may require special attention during evacuation.  


  1. 2.) Establish Communication Channels: 

Ensure there are multiple ways to receive emergency alerts and warnings. Sign up for and review your alert options, especially SoCoAlert and CivicReady.  Consider having a member of your support team sign up to receive emergency alerts through SoCoAlert and add your address to their new or existing SoCoAlert account. This way, the person or team you’ve identified will be notified if you’re alerted and it will prompt them to check in on you. Learn more at 

  1. 3.) Identify Safe Meeting Points: 

Designate safe meeting points both within the neighborhood and outside of it. These meeting points should be accessible and easy to reach for the seniors. Have a portable radio or scanner so you can stay updated on the fire and weather emergency announcements as well as the locations of Temporary Evacuation Points (TEPs). 


  1. 4.) Pack an Emergency Go Bag: 

Put together a well-stocked emergency kit that includes essentials such as non-perishable food, water, medications, flashlight, extra batteries, first aid supplies, personal hygiene items, and important documents (IDs, medical information, insurance papers). 


  1. 5.) Arrange Transportation: 

Ensure there is a reliable means of transportation available for evacuation. If you or a loved one is unable to drive, establish a primary and secondary plan for transportation with family, friends, or caretakers. Encourage seniors to communicate their evacuation plans with neighbors they trust. Neighbors can offer assistance during emergencies, especially if seniors may need help evacuating. 


  1. 6.) Practice the Evacuation Plan: 

Regularly rehearse the evacuation plan to familiarize vulnerable friends, family, and neighbors with the process. This can reduce stress and increase their confidence during an actual emergency. 


  1. 7.) Keep Emergency Contact Information Readily Available: 

Ensure that seniors, caretakers, or vulnerable residents have a list of emergency contact numbers, including family members, additional caregivers, and local authorities. Have a backup thumb drive in your emergency go bag with digital copies of important contact information and documents.  


  1. 8.) Consider Mobility Aids: 

If residents use mobility aids (e.g., walkers, canes, wheelchairs), make sure they are easily accessible and ready to go at a moment's notice. Residents should learn how to protect themselves by planning for the need to evacuate, regardless of physical limitations. Make sure they are located in the same place in the home all the time, so they are easy to find in the event of an emergency.  


  1. 9.) Stay Informed: 
    1. Stay updated on the wildfire situation and evacuation orders. Tune radio to 1350 AM, 103.5 FM, 100.1 FM, 89.1 FM (bilingual), 98.7 FM (Spanish); watch your preferred local TV news channel. Attend community meetings, workshops, and preparedness events with the City of Santa Rosa and the Santa Rosa Fire Department every year to stay up to date. Be aware of the seniors' immediate surroundings and whether they are in a high-risk wildfire area. If you live in an area that is in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI), prone to wildfires or you require extra time to evacuate, consider relocating or staying out of the area during critical fire weather events specifically affecting your area such as a Red Flag Warning. There’s no reason you should wait for an evacuation order or warning to leave if you don’t feel safe or comfortable being in the area.  

  1. 10.) Practice Fire Prevention: 

Help vulnerable loved ones and neighbors take preventive measures to minimize the risk of wildfires near their homes. This could include home hardening measures such as clearing dry leaves and debris, ensuring the home's exterior is fire-resistant, and creating defensible spaces around the property. 


Learn more about how to prepare our seniors, including those with access and functional needs, to evacuate in the event of a wildfire by: 

  • Reviewing the CAL Fire Wildfire Ready webpage found in our Property Owner Resource Library at
  • Reading the Red Cross' Disaster Preparedness For Seniors by Seniors guidebook here
  • Reading the Red Cross' Disaster Preparedness for people with disabilities and other special needs here.


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