The terms “Voluntary” and “Mandatory” are most often used to describe evacuation orders. However, local jurisdictions may use other terms, such as “Precautionary” and “Immediate Threat” to alert you to the level of danger. Pay close attention to all evacuation instructions provided by officials, and follow them immediately. As soon as you know a threat is looming, pack your most important belongings and seek a place to go. Gather any pets you may have into carriers or a closed room so that you don't have to frantically chase them at the last minute. Don't wait until they say "mandatory" to gather your things and go.
The most important items to grab in a hurry include identification, cash & credit cards, medications, important documents (insurance, deeds, birth certificates, etc), your cell phone and charger, and a change of clothes. If you have more time and room in your vehicle, pack your most cherished photo books, laptops, an overnight bag with toiletries, and any other valuables that are easily carried.
Law enforcement agencies are typically responsible for enforcing an evacuation order. Follow their directions, as they should be able to tell you the safest escape routes to use based on the fire’s location, behavior, winds, terrain, etc.
As soon as possible, contact your friends and family to let them know you are safe and where you are staying. Facebook is often a critical resource for locating people and keeping everyone abreast of your whereabouts.
Do not return to your home until fire officials say it is safe to do so. Notification that it is safe to return home will be given as soon as possible considering safety and accessibility.
Keep all of your receipts for food and lodging while you are displaced from your home. Your insurance policy will likely require them in order to reimburse you.
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