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What you need – Chico Enterprise-Record

CHICO — As grass fires start to become an almost daily occurrence in Butte County, fire departments are urging emergency preparedness for residents.

Cal Fire-Butte County, as well as its other jurisdictions, has pushed for go bags, essentially bags or boxes of important items at the ready should an evacuation occur.

The following are items that every go bag should have, according to Cal Fire:

  • Face masks/coverings
  • A three-day supply of nonperishable food
  • Three gallons of water per person
  • A map marked with at least two evacuation routes
  • Prescription medication
  • A change of clothes
  • Extra eyeglasses or contact lenses
  • An extra set of car keys
  • Credit cards, cash or traveler’s checks
  • A first aid kit
  • A flashlight
  • A battery-powered radio with extra batteries
  • Sanitation supplies
  • copies of important documents
  • food and water for pets

While these items are universal for every bag, Cal Fire-Butte County Capt Jacob Gilliam said there will be some items that are specific to each individual or family.

“Go bags should be tailored to the individual,” Gilliam said. “Everyone may need something a little bit different.”

The bags should also be checked on roughly a monthly basis to ensure everything is up to date.

Gilliam said N95 masks might be ideal to avoid breathing in microparticles, but any sort of face-covering would work. The goal is to keep hot embers and ashes from entering the mouth or nose.

Canned goods work for nonperishable foods as glass jars are prone to breakage. Note that a can opener will likely be needed as well to open the food. Enough food and water for pets should also be packed.

Prescription medications should be prioritized, though other special medications such as pain relievers or allergy medications should be considered as well.

Gilliam said extra clothing should depend on the weather, though evacuees should dress with cotton long-sleeves, long pants and closed-toed shoes or boots to avoid burns from falling embers.

“When evacuations were happening in November, it was cold outside,” Gilliam said. “It’s very different from evacuating in July.”

First aid kits can be purchased from pharmacies such as Walgreens or CVS as well as larger box stores like Target and Walmart. Gilliam said that these kits will likely cover anything needed for small medical situations, adding that extra water should be packed for use when someone sustains a burn.

It’s important to have money on hand in the form of debit cards, credit cards, cash and checks.

Important electronics include at least one flashlight that is tested and works along with a battery-powered radio. Extra batteries should be packed as well for these items.

Sanitation supplies consist of alcohol wipes, gloves and sanitizers.

Important documents, including birth certificates, passports, driver’s licenses and any other documents potential evacuees would need can be compiled into an envelope and kept in the bag with everything else throughout the fire season.

Another important point, Gilliam said, is to make sure that vehicles have at least a half-tank of gas so that they can be used for evacuations.

“An important thing is to keep your car filled up with fuel as well,” Gilliam said. “Many times where people couldn’t leave it was because they had less than a quarter tank of gas. I would really urge people in the summer to keep it more than half full so you have enough fuel to evacuate.”

Gilliam also said defensible space should still be a priority for homes.

“We’re really pushing defensible space, and it’s never too late to get started, but we want people to do the right thing the right way,” Gilliam said.

For example, if a resident uses power tools to clear out brush and other fire fuels, it needs to be done before 10 a.m. before it gets too hot and the risk of fire spikes. In creating defensible space, Gilliam said the five feet closest to a home is the most important and combustible material should not be that close to a house. From there, residents can work outward to 100 feet.

Gilliam said a newer facet of emergency preparedness is for people to know which evacuation zone they live in, something the Butte County Sheriff’s Office has been overseeing and pushing.

It is likely that a burn ban will be put in place within the next week, Gilliam said.

Additional information can be found at


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