This weekend residents in the Country Club Vista area of Payson will be participating in an evacuation drill.
The area is one of 12 in the community that has been identified as a "high-hazard" neighborhood by the Payson Fire Department.
The Country Club Vista area abuts forest land to the south and west and is heavily treed, especially with junipers. The roads are mostly narrow and rough.
A few weeks ago members of the Payson Police Department and its volunteers were in the neighborhood contacting residents about the planned evacuation drill, which is at 9 a.m., Saturday, May 1.
Since the fire season has already started and we had a good stretch of rain, followed by high temperatures and wind drying out all the new growth, you don't need to wait for a formal evacuation drill to get prepared.
Start now. Check with the police and fire department about the plan for your neighborhood.
Where would you evacuate? How would you get there? What would you take?
Are your pets going with you? If so, how will you contain them? Are your pet carriers or leashes handy?
When the residents in the communities evacuated by the Rodeo-Chediski Fire came to Payson, many were able to get away with only the clothes on their backs. The residents of this community, and others around the state, pitched in and helped them out. But if it were you, wouldn't you rather have your own clothes, personal items, plus a supply of your medications?
If that's the case, now is the time to decide exactly what you will need to carry with you to the evacuation center. If it is possible, pack it now and either stow it in your vehicle or someplace where the access is easy.
The Red Cross has a wealth of information on its website about preparing for an evacuation, so does the Federal Emergency Management site.
Don't wait for an emergency; be prepared. It's the best remedy for panic.