Information Related to Preparing for Forest Fire and Evacuation For Cook County Businesses
A checklist of things to do now!
This page covers a great deal of information and procedures, however, it may not be all-inclusive. Each individual, business, and home is different. Contact the Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department and/or the Cook County Emergency Management, for questions concerning specific situations.
I. Have a fire prevention plan:
- Limit sources of fire within 30 feet of all structures (firepits, grills, etc.) --(Fire Safe Home Checklist.)
- Reduce fuel sources within 30 feet of all structures (log piles, gasoline and propane tanks, conifer shrubbery) -- (Fire Safe Home Checklist.)
- Educate yourself, your family, your staff, and your guests about the wildfire potential and all plans related to the danger.
- Install sprinklers.
- Install and maintain fire fighting equipment including:
- Good, reliable fire pumps and hoses.
- Enough hose to protect all your structures/valuables.
- Protective gear for you, your family, and guests. Protective gear includes goggles, dust masks, and Nomex (Nomex is a brand name for the yellow fire resistant clothing fire fighters wear) or natural fiber (cotton or wool) clothing.
Note: For specific information on most of the prevention measures above, please refer to the USFS, DNR and Emergency Management links.
- Request the fire department visit your property. Show them what fire equipment is available and where it is stored, and, where potential hazards are located (e.g. gas and propane tanks).
- Provide good access/egress to your structures and usable turn-arounds for fire trucks. (Recommended specifications.)
II. Have an emergency plan:
- Complete the Fire Department Emergency Planning Information Card and return to Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department.
- Prepare written evacuation instructions customized to your business, with a map of your property showing evacuation routes. Run practice drills with your family and staff which include evacuation of guests and shutting down the business.
- Copies of your evacuation instructions should be readily available for staff to use in case you are away or otherwise occupied.
- Post emergency procedures in your cabins/bunks, including where to go for with questions and for information.
- Make your guests aware of emergency procedures during check-in.
- Run a weekly or daily (depending upon your business) guest registration log which is readily transportable (on paper or disk). Include in the log the names, address, and phone numbers of every member of every party staying with you. Also include their vehicle's license plate information, pet information, and emergency contacts.
- Keep track of all your guests:
- Have a check-in/check-out sheet for guests going out for the day during high fire danger periods.
- Have designated locations to meet in the event guests are separated.
- Make a list of people being evacuated from your business and/or those unaccounted for. Leave one copy behind and take one with you.
III. Understand your part in the communications plan
- Make sure your guests understand, if an evacuation occurs, they must check in with the County evacuation headquarters before leaving the area or securing lodging at another property.
- Post information about where to go if local roads are blocked.
- Post information about where your employees can stay if evacuated.
- Arrange to have a place to temporarily shelter your guests if they are evacuated.
- Pre-arrange a partnership with another area or North Shore resort to accommodate your guests if evacuation occurs.
- Post plans about how your guests can get to an area of refuge/staging area if regular methods of travel are not possible.
- Inform/educate your staff about what to tell guests in an emergency. Review often. Provide a written statement for your staff to read to guests, if necessary.
- Inform your staff of the location of your weekly/daily guest logs, daily sign-outs sheets, and other tracking information. Make sure your staff knows this information must be taken with them if evacuation occurs and you are not on the premises.
- Run practice evacuation drills with your staff.
- Have cancellation/refund policies determined for all contingencies.
IV. Have a business backup plan.
- Businesses must have a central location where information can be posted for the public to see it.
- Contact your Lake Association to find out about your place in a calling tree.
- Make sure you are in a calling tree and that your phone numbers are correct.
- Give 24-hour contact numbers for your main residence to Lake Association or neighbors.
- Have an outside communications ability if phones go down (radio, etc.).
- Make sure relatives have contact numbers of neighbors, Lake Assoc., or Cook County Sheriff if they are unable to reach you.
- Have your records in a mobile form, which can be taken with you.
- Insurance Forms
- Financial information
- Personnel information
- Historical files
- Cash register tapes
...... and a personal backup plan
- Have back-up copies of your records/computer files and store off-site.
- Have a place set up in advance to operate your business from a remote location.
- Have a place to forward your phones.
- Have a current inventory, for insurance purposes, stored off premises.
- Have a video/photographic record of your property and inventory.
- Set-up a remote e-mail account.
- Provide firesafe storage for sentimental and other valuables, or remove from premises and store elsewhere.
- Have a plan for family members with special needs. Remember smoke may be a problem, even if a fire is not threatening your location.
- Have a plan for pets. If you are evacuated, pets must be taken with you, preferably in pet carriers. Arrange for a place to house your pets ahead of time.
- Have a pre-packed emergency suitcase that is ready to go if you need to leave: (think of it as getting ready for a weekend away from home).
**The Red Cross website has lots of ideas that may be useful.
- Extra eyeglasses
- Medications in original bottles
- Cash, billfold, credit cards, personal ID.
- Extra clothes - pre-packed in a suitcase or pack. Remember to wear natural fiber clothing.
- Food, water
- List of important phone, credit card, insurance policies, and other numbers
- Blankets or sleeping bags and pillows
- Personal toilet articles
V. Potential purchases for preparedness
- Satellite phone
- NOAA Radio
- Base Station radio
- Fire pump
- Protective clothing (natural fiber or nomex)
- Water and food storage containers
- "Dust masks" for smoke
- Goggles for ash and smoke
- Evaluate potential security problems during an emergency and take action to minimize your exposure.
- Have a set of keys for all your buildings or other locks in your emergency kit.
- Have all outfitting guests bring an extra set of keys for their cars so you can each have one.
VII. Special Training Needs for Staff
- Crisis management
- Dealing with the media
- Basic fire behavior and safety - GTA members and Fire Dept. will help with these subjects
- Practice evacuation notifications and fire drills with your staff
- - practice evacuation of guests
- - practice preparation of property to evacuate
VIII. Returning to Normal
- Set up a damage assessment team.
- Have a recovery plan including clean-up
- Plan for temporary staff housing in case necessary
- Remember you will need time to deal with bureaucracy -- complete insurance forms, Government forms, and answer may questions from family, guests, and media
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