San Diego

What Would You Grab If You Had to Evacuate in 5 Minutes?

With wildfires burning in several California counties, we revisit a challenge we gave to one San Diego homeowner - show us what you could grab if given just minutes.

If you had just five minutes to flee a wildfire, would you be able to evacuate in time to get to safety?

In Redding, California, residents had just minutes to evacuate after officials knocked on their doors in the middle of the night as the Carr Fire expanded rapidly and threatened hundreds of homes.

Sharon Stapleton, 71, told the Record Searchlight newspaper that she and her husband grabbed a pillow, some shirts and pants, medicine, important documents and their two dogs and left in their SUV and their motorhome.

In October 2017, we asked Lisa Leonard of Tierrasanta to undergo a challenge. 

She raced through her two-story home, looking for her most cherished items. Leonard focused on sentimental items like photographs and the cremation ashes of her dogs.

She also grabbed important documents, including her insurance and trust information.

“I think what I’d probably do just going through this drill, is maybe do a Google search and try to get a little bit more prepared," said Leonard. "If you only have five minutes, what are mission critical important things?”

So how did Lisa stack up to what the experts said she should have taken in the event of an evacuation?

ReadySanDiego recommends having an emergency fire bag that includes supplies that can sustain you, your family and pets for a minimum of 72 hours. 

Here’s a detailed list of items recommended by Cal Fire:

  • Critical medications
  • Important papers, photos
  • Essential valuables
  • Pet and livestock food and transport
  • Change of clothing and toiletries
  • Cell phone
  • Critical papers and documents in fire-proof safe
  • Evacuation Route Map with at least two routes
For more information on how to safely plan ahead for disasters, visit


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