PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As wildfires near The Dalles force more people to leave their homes, fire crews warn the public to have a go bag ready ahead of a potential “Go Now” evacuation order. 

Lieutenant Firefighter and Public Information Officer for Clackamas Fire Micah Shelton told KOIN 6 that when a fast-moving blaze threatens homes, residents may have only a few moments to grab what they need. 

“In an instant, we know that the world can change, and your situation can change,” Shelton said. “You don’t want to have to panic and think ‘what do I need to grab in this moment?’ Versus, ‘let’s just grab a bag, and get out the door into safety.’”

As wildfires rage in and around Wasco County, locals continue to experience all levels of fire evacuations. 

Shelton told KOIN 6 that the impending wildfire season should act as a sign for people to put together an emergency plan and pack an evacuation bag just in case. 

“Having the essentials like a good pair of shoes, pants, clean shirt, underwear, so you are comfortable over a period of one-to-three days is huge,” Shelton explained. “It’s important to have food items, and we also recommend getting a small container that’s waterproof where you can store your medication and personal records.” 

In addition to the more common items like important documents, prescription medications and bathroom toiletries. Shelton also suggests residents pack backup phone batteries, a flashlight and a whistle to help emergency response crews locate them in case of an emergency. 

“Pretend you’re going to go out into the wilderness to camp for two or three days,” he said. “What necessity items are you going to need to survive?”

And according to Clackamas Fire, it is just as important to pack a go bag for members of the family who can’t prepare one for themselves, such as small children and four-legged friends. 

“Our critters are part of our families … and we also have younger ones too,” Shelton added. “An infant child might need formula and different food than you do. Young children and pets can’t plan for themselves so it’s a good idea to pre-plan for them.”

He continued, “Have some pet food in a Ziploc bag and anything you might think that they need. Pack a leash because pets get spooked in emergency situations and the last thing we want is them running into danger or you going after them.” 

While Clackamas Fire said they want to help keep everyone safe, including pets, Shelton warned that not all emergency accommodations accept them so it may be a good idea to check ahead of time. 

Shelton told KOIN 6 News he recommends the community sign up for the county’s public alert system to stay up to date on any evacuation orders as they are issued.