As you may or may not have heard by now, there are some pretty serious wildfires going on around our beautiful city. While no one at Apogee has been directly affected by any of the fires, our hearts still go out to those who have lost their homes, livestock, pets, livelihoods, and unfortunately, lives.

For anyone who may be wondering, the largest fire, known as the Bastrop Complex Fire, is about 25 miles east of downtown Austin. Smoke has hung heavy over the area for the past couple of days, due to thankfully calm winds. The smoke should blow out today due to a weak front we have pushing through, but that also means higher winds that increase the risk of flareups, new fires, or exacerbating the situation for the fires that still aren’t contained. At this point, we desperately need rain, but the entire state will gladly accept prayers, rain dances, good vibes–whatever you’ve got.


Capt. Alan Donaldson of the Bastrop Fire Department looks at his his destroyed firefighting helmet at his burned down home on Tonkawa Drive in Bastrop’s Circle D Estates neighborhood on Wednesday Sept. 7, 2011. Photo courtesy of Austin American Statesman

These fires, though, have prompted a lot of people to ask: What SHOULD/WOULD you grab if a fireman knocked on your door and told you to evacuate immediately? The Austin-American Statesman has compiled a list of things it would be nice to be able to take in case of an evacuation (let’s face it, though, if you have two minutes to get out odds are you’re thinking, pets, underwear, purse, cell phone and that’s about it).

Here’s the packed in advance evacuation kit list:

  • Water—one gallon per person, per day for three days
  • A three-day supply of nonperishable food
  • Flashlights
  • Battery or hand-crank radio, with extra batteries
  • First aid kit, including prescription medications
  • Personal hygiene items, including hand sanitizer, soap, toilet paper, wipes, sunscreen and insect repellent
  • Copies of personal documents (deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies) and a plastic pouch to keep them in
  • Cell phones with chargers
  • Names and phone numbers of emergency contacts
  • Extra cash, checkbook and credit cards
  • Eyeglasses, hearing aids
  • Baby supplies, including diapers and formula
  • Games and toys for kids
  • Pet supplies, including leash, bowls, cat litter, cat box and pet food
  • Extra set of car keys and house keys
  • Manual can opener
  • Whistle
  • N95 or surgical masks
  • Matches
  • Rain gear
  • Extra clothing, hat and sturdy shoes
  • Duct tape
  • Blankets, sleeping bags and towels
  • Wedding albums and other important photographs

Looking at that list, it makes total sense to have those things ready to go in case of an evacuation. If you know a hurricane is barreling towards you, or in our case, if you know a fire could pop up at any minute, it’s completely feasible to have those things loaded into the car and ready to go. But what if you only have a few minutes? You won’t have time to gather those things. My “must grabs” would be:

  • My dog (he’s my “baby”), his leash, and dog food
  • My fiance (okay, so I would grab my fiance first, and then the dog)
  • Both of our cell phones
  • Purse, wallet(s)
  • Underwear
  • Eyeglasses
  • If time: birth certificates, social security cards, irreplaceable photographs of my grandparents and myself as a baby, external harddrives
  • Ideally, I would LIKE to be able to escape with our tandem bicycle, but that might be asking a bit much–and nothing that homeowner’s insurance can’t replace

Overall, I hold the very firm belief that a house can be replaced. Televisions and computers and bicycles and Keurig coffeemakers and toys can be replaced. Appliances can be replaced. Fences rebuilt. Trees replanted. But you can’t replace a life.

If you were facing evacuation orders, whether it be from a hurricane, flooding or wildfire, what would you take with you? Also, if you would like to help the victims of the local wildfires, here’s a list of Austin area agencies accepting donations, and what they most need. And last, but certainly not least, thank you to all of the firefighters and volunteers who have put their lives on the line and who have worked almost non-stop–you are all very appreciated.