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When it’s 2:15 in the morning, the power is out, the air smells of smoke, yet you are fast asleep, then you realize that firefighters are pounding on your door shouting, “Evacuate Now”, what do you do? 

I thought I was very prepared for an emergency with packed Go Bags in our vehicles and one in our hall closet that had a list in large letters of what to grab.  But when my husband and I were given exactly ONE MINUTE to get out because the fire was only 100 feet from our house, there was no time to gather items. In the dark, with a flashlight leading the way, there was just enough time to throw on clothes, grab my computer, purse, phone, keys, and Go Bag. Outside the front door, I put on my garden clogs and off we went as two trucks of firefighters battled the blaze from our driveway. 

Here are the cliff notes of what I learned that frenzied and frightful morning that could have improved our one-minute evacuation.

  1. 1.Put keys, wallet, handbag, phone, glasses, and other essentials in the same place every time. My husband left without his wallet and glasses.
  2. 2.Everything on your list should be stored near your Go Bag. On my list, I had written: computer, back-up discs, passports, insurance papers, family DVD’s, and my first-edition books that I wrote.  There was time to only get my computer.
  3. 3.Have duplicate keys to homes, offices, or other keys you may need in your Go Bag. We were allowed to only evacuate with one car. My car had everything we needed in it, but we were directed to take my husband’s car that had nothing.
  4. 4.Keep a pair of shoes near the front door. Check!
  5. 5.A headlamp is the best flashlight option when you are searching in the dark,  attempting to find things. Two hands are better than one when you can take only what you can carry.
  6. 6.Bring a warm coat, blankets, socks, and maybe your pillow. It was cold and the two thin blankets in my emergency bag were not sufficient. I wish I had stuffed my pillow in my bag.

Today I’ve amended my emergency Go Bag. This may be the new normal.

The firefighters were calm, professional, and truly heroic in saving lives and homes. Our sincerest gratitude to all these brave men from many fire districts who orchestrated a successful save. Bravo!

All is well that ends well.

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by Cynthia Brian


In the midst of the many disasters that seem to be continuous, I encourage clients to put together an emergency “Go Bag”. Whatever the calamity, it will behoove you to have an emergency supply kit in every vehicle and a larger one in your home. Make sure you know where all of your important documents are located. Make copies and put everything you need either in your Go Bag or next to your Go Bag. Know how to manually open automatic garage doors and gates. Sometimes, as is the case with our California wildfires or earthquakes, a matter of minutes is the difference between life and death.

Make copies of your passport, driver’s license, credit cards, and have some small bills available. Pack duplicate chargers for phones, tablets, and computers. Back up your computers and keep files in the cloud or off-site. Make a plan for your pets and animals and have a bag ready for them as well. Know your neighbors and their contact numbers to keep in touch to make sure everyone is safe. Have a list of a network of friends that you can call in an emergency. Know where you can go in evacuations.

Most of all, remember that saving your life and that of your family is the most important. Everything else can be replaced.

Fill a backpack or small case with the following and keep one of these in ALL of your vehicles and one in your home:
First Aid kit

Work gloves

Warm gloves


Small towel

Bottled water (1 gallon per person per day)


Walking shoes


Warm jacket

Peanut butter


Protein bars

Personal hygiene kit with a toothbrush, soap, medications



Flashlight and headlamp with extra batteries

Eating utensils

Breathing masks (Niosh-N95)

Clothing change

Extra set of keys to home, office, etc.


Toilet Paper

Bottles of Wine (optional)


I hope that we never have to use these emergency kits, but it’s best to be prepared.

Cynthia Brian is the columnist for Digging Deep with the Goddess Gardener.

Cynthia Brian

Starstyle® Productions, LLC

PO Box 422  *  Moraga, Ca. 94556

925-377-7827   *   * 

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