Emergency Preparedness: During a Wildfire

Know what to do keep your home and family safe during a wildfire.

Knowing what to do before an emergency is the first step in having a good emergency preparedness plan. Knowing what to do during the emergency is just as important. Part of your preparation should include running through the steps you need to take and your plan of action during the actual emergency. Previously, we covered what you need to do to prepare your home in the event of a wildfire. Now, let’s go through what you should do if the wildfire is coming.

Get Ready

  1. If you see smoke or flames, and haven’t received notice to evacuate, call it in. Don’t assume others have already called.
  2. Stay aware of the developing situation with news and updates from radio, TV as well as local authorities. Be sure you, your family and your home are ready should you need to evacuate.
    Don’t wait for an evacuation notice.  Get your emergency kit loaded in your vehicle, so you can leave immediately.

Prepare Your Home

  1. Move your outside furniture and other belongings. You can either bring them inside, or move them away from your home and any other structures. If it can burn and you can move it, do so. Be sure to setup a ‘defensible space’ around your home. Learn more by visiting the Ready For Wildfire web site.
  2. Seal up your home to prevent burning embers from getting inside. Seal attic vents, close all windows and doors.
  3. Close all the interior doors in your home to prevent drafts. Open the damper if you have a fireplace but keep the screen closed.
  4. If you use gas to either heat your home or to cook, be sure to shut it off at the source.
  5. If your home has portable lawn sprinklers, place them on the roof and near any above ground fuel sources. Turn the sprinklers on and let them run for as long as possible.
    Do not leave them running if you evacuate.
  6. Fill all available large containers with water, including your pool or hot tub, garbage cans, tubs, etc. Also connect your garden hose to your external faucet.
  7. If you have a ladder, place it against your home where it will be visible from the street.

Plan Your Exit

  1. Place any valuable papers and things you can’t replace or live without in your car.
  2. Turn on any outside lights you have and leave one light on in every room to make the house more visible in heavy smoke.
  3. Leave as early as possible, before you’re told to evacuate if you feel the threat is imminent. By leaving as soon as possible, you will help keep the roads near your home and neighborhood clear so firefighters and emergency personnel can arrive faster.
  4. Lock your home and choose a route that takes you away from the fire. Pay attention to any changes in the speed and direction of the fire and smoke. Tell someone when you left and where you are going.

The risk and dangers of a possible wildfire to the well-being of your home and family can cause worry and stress. But taking steps to minimize your home’s fire risk and knowing what to do during the emergency can help you keep from panicking and remain calm so you can focus on helping your family through the emergency without adding stress and anxiety. As our coverage of Ready.gov’s National Preparedness Month continues we’ll help you understand what to do after a wildfire. Ensuring that your emergency preparedness plan for wildfires is complete.

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