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Video: 10 minutes to evacuate. Here’s how 1 family managed a simulated emergency

A California fire department and utility company devised the exercise to underscore National Preparedness Month messaging to plan for disasters


By FireRescue1 Staff

OAKLAND, Calif. — A California family took part in a simulated emergency to demonstrate how being prepared can help bring calm to chaos.

The exercise, which was captured on video, is part of a National Preparedness Month messaging campaign developed between the Placer Hills (California) Fire Department and Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E).

As part of a simulated wildfire evacuation, firefighters gave the Childers family 10 minutes to get what they would need, as is often the case in a real evacuation, and leave their home. Although the family did not have go-bags ready during the drill, they grabbed essentials – important documents, changes of clothes and some food.

“You think you’re ready, but are you? It’s scary,” said Michelle Childers, who participated in the disaster readiness drill with her husband, Justin, and their two children. “I’ve never experienced this, I know what I was thinking, but I paused. I got a couple of changes of clothes for each of us, got some snacks that I know the kids would eat, and some mementos.”

Justin added: “My first instinct was birth certificates, passports, IDs, keys, wallets, because those are the things we’re going to need immediately (if evacuated) to get a hotel, to rebuild. My second initial response was mementos, pictures.”

Placer Hills Battalion Chief Matt Slusher said the Childers did a really good job: “They worked well together. But what if one of you was not home at the time of an evacuation? What would you prioritize? For example, the kids—if you had to be away for 72 hours, their homework, the things that are important to them because their lives are going to be turned upside down, how do you maintain a level of normalcy?”

A statement from PG&E urged its customers to assess their level of preparedness for a natural disaster or other emergency, and to take the necessary actions to be ready: “The key to making sure that you and your family safely and successfully respond to a natural disaster or emergency is to prepare before it happens.”

PG&E offered the following guidelines to prepare for an emergency:

  • Build or restock your emergency kit with flashlights, fresh batteries, first-aid supplies and cash. Keep face masks and hand sanitizer in your emergency kit.
  • Identify backup charging methods for phones and keep printed copies of emergency numbers.
  • Plan for medical needs like medications that require refrigeration or devices that need power.
  • Keep in mind family members who are elderly, younger children and pets.
  • Update your contact information online or by your local gas and electric provider.

Resources can be found at PG&E’s Safety Action Center: