As I’m writing this, Oroville, California is under a mandatory evacuation order. A couple of days ago, the news reported a large breach in the spillway due to erosion, and the decision was made to lower the water level in the reservoir. Oroville is midway between Redding, California and Sacramento, a few miles east of Interstate 5. Emergency release orders went into effect late Sunday afternoon accompanied by the evacuation order. In excess of 100,000 cubic feet per second is being released to bring down the water level and minimize impact in the event of further structural failure. Over a hundred thousand people are in the process of evacuation. Freeways are jammed and gas station/convenience stores are doing a booming business. One evacuee who spoke with a TV reporter said his fifth-wheel trailer was full but there was no diesel available for his pickup, that he would have to take his chances as he headed for Sacramento. Others interviewed reported they were going to stay with relatives and others had made hotel reservations before they left home.
This is a textbook example of the necessity of being prepared. If your family has a plan in place, a bag prepared and a destination, then an orderly evacuation can take place in very little time and you’re way ahead of the crowds. (And way less stress on the marriage, I might add.)
The public is being assured that downstream water levels are being kept well below flood stage.
On another note, I want to make a comment on an item I’m sure everyone carries in their camping gear, survival kit or go-bag. It’s the space blanket. They’re available everywhere and fairly inexpensive as well. They take up little space in your bag, but give the impression of being life-saving if needed. I received a “Tact Bivy” for Christmas this year. This is in essence, a sleeping bag made from the same material as a space blanket. Keep in mind there are various grades of space blanket, but most are a metalized mylar-foil product that claim to keep astronauts comfy in outer space. The Tact Bivy comes packaged in a nice draw-string nylon bag to keep it folded, rolled and ready for use. Since a few other members of my family also received them for Christmas presents, we decided to give them a try. I pulled mine out of the draw-string bag and unrolled it on the floor. I reached my hands inside to expand it out, the same as you would with a paper sack to open it for use. In doing so, I managed to split a seam about 6 inches along the side. I did manage to slither inside, fully clothed on the carpet of my living room with no further damage to the Tact Bivy.
Space blanket technology isn’t designed to insulate, rather it is designed to reflect body heat. So if you’re going to depend on your space blanket to keep you alive out in the elements, you may be wise to use it instead as a fire reflector or windbreak rather than trying to snuggle down out of the cold night air. Inside the Tact Bivy I did feel an elevation in temperature, but then I was fully clothed in my living room. Reports of shredded space blankets on rocks, sticks or other sharp objects are common on the internet. So if you still insist on making a space blanket a part of your kit, be sure to spend a little extra and get the heavy duty version, but also make sure a wool blanket is tucked away somewhere as well.