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The safety of your campers and staff and anyone who may be on your property are your primary responsibility. Review your risk management plan for camp evacuation and coordinate with appropriate local authorities. Many of the suggestions below may already be in your risk management plan. Some may or may not apply to your particular situation. For more information about what other camps have done when called to evacuate, please read "Forest Fire: A Crisis Reality for Camp." The following information, provided by Markel Insurance Company, offers suggestions as to what you can do if your camp is called to evacuate due to a forest fire.
Fire Evacuation - What You Need to Know
During wildfire season, you may be forced to evacuate your home or business. Most fire evacuations seem to provide at least a three-hour notice. People are your first priority - you can take steps before and during an evacuation to reduce anxiety and avoid injuries. You can also make your site more fire resistant. Visit the National Interagency Fire Center for fire status information and the National Weather Service for your area's drought conditions.
Before the Evacuation
- Coordinate with the American Red Cross and emergency agencies (such as FEMA) and give them the locations of your evacuation sites. Prepare and post route maps for each site.
- Consider forming a cooperative agreement with another site in your region to share resources and serve as an evacuation site.
- Prepare and post alternate route maps. In case of a large fire, you may need to use "Plan B."
- Work with your regional Forest Service to train staff on emergency procedures during offsite trips, such as trail rides and hikes. Train staff to avoid areas such as closed-in box canyons during fires. Visit www.firewise.org for training information and resources.
- Identify key equipment to be evacuated, including computers.
- Prep a four-day supply of water and easily prepared food.
During the Evacuation
- Explain your evacuation procedures. Arrange for people to communicate with their families.
- Identify special medical needs and gather necessary supplies, including trauma supplies.
- Make sure you have enough vehicles to evacuate everyone safely.
- Equip staff with emergency communications equipment (cell phones, whistles).
- Load key equipment, food and water.
- Warn firefighters of underground fuel storage or LP gas tanks before you leave the site.
- Locate all emergency equipment for ready access.
- If you have horses or livestock, consider evacuating them or setting them loose in the safest areas. For horses, consider adding a two-day supply of feed.
After the Fire - Filing Claims
- Gather your important records, which may include your computer.
- Using a video or disposable camera, photograph buildings, interiors, and contents to help you document what was lost in the fire.
It is important to remember to provide updates throughout the evacuation process, especially if camp is in session. Posting regular updates on your Web site, or via social networking sites will help answer questions and ease concerns for parents and families.
Reprinted by permission of Markel Insurance Company.