During severe fire weather (Red Flag Warning), a fire is burning nearby, or an evacuation is anticipated, follow this checklist (if time permits) to give you and your home the best chance of surviving a wildfire. Read through it BEFORE a fire, to better understand your priorities and decision-making process when a fire strikes.
- Monitor all available information sources – Nixle, social media (Facebook), local media (TV and radio), and use your senses to be aware of the situation outside.
- Monitor local news and radio stations for fire information.
- Alert your neighbors to heightened risk on Red Flag Days, or when a fire is burning nearby, especially if they are have children, or are elderly or disabled.
- Ensure your cell phone is fully charged.
- Notify an out-of-area contact of your phone number, location and status. Update regularly.
- Leave a note with your contact info and out-of-area contact taped to refrigerator or inside a front window.
- Check on or call neighbors to alert them to prepare.
- Dress all family members in long sleeves and long pants; heavy cotton or wool is best, no matter how hot it is.
- Wear full coverage goggles, leather gloves, head protection.
- Cover faces with a dry cotton or wool bandanna or scarf over an N95 respirator.
- Carry a headlamp and flashlight (even during the day).
- Carry car keys, wallet, ID, cell phone, and spare battery.
- Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated.
- Put Emergency “Go Bag” in your vehicle.
INSIDE THE HOME
- Shut all windows and doors (interior too) and leave them unlocked.
- Remove combustible window shades and lightweight curtains; close metal shutters.
- Move furniture to the center of the room, away from windows.
- Leave indoor and outdoor lights on for firefighters.
- Shut off HVAC and ceiling fans.
PETS & ANIMALS
- Locate your pets and place in carriers NOW. You won’t be able to catch them when the fire approaches.
- Be sure your pets wear tags and are registered with microchips.
- Place carriers (with your pets in them) near the front door, with fresh water and extra food.
- Prepare horses and large animals for transport and consider moving them to a safe location early, before evacuation is ordered.
- Learn more about evacuating pets…
- Learn more about evacuating large animals…
OUTSIDE & IN NEIGHBORHOOD
- Place combustible outdoor items (patio furniture, toys, doormats, trash cans, etc.) in garage or move 30’ from structures (optional: place in a pool).
- Shut off gas at the meter or propane tank; move small tanks at least 15’ away from combustibles.
- Connect garden hoses to outside water valves or spigots for use by firefighters. Attach squeeze-grip nozzles if you have them.
- Fill water buckets and place around outside of house, especially near decks and fences.
- Don’t leave sprinklers on or water running – they are ineffective and can reduce critical water pressure needed by firefighters.
- Hosing your roof down is dangerous and ineffective. Clean your gutters and blow leaves away from house instead (only if time allows).
- Back your car into driveway, loaded, with doors and windows closed.
- Unlock and prop open fence and side gates.
- Place ladder(s) at the corner(s) of structures for firefighters.
- Seal attic and ground vents with pre-cut plywood or metal covers (even duct tape will protect from ember entry) if time allows.
- Patrol your property and monitor conditions. Leave if spot fires ignite or conditions change.
WHEN YOU LEAVE
- Leave immediately if ordered.
- Don’t wait for an evacuation order if you feel unsafe or conditions change; leave early if unsure.
- Assist elderly or disabled neighbors.
- Carpool to reduce traffic.
- Take only essential vehicles with adequate fuel.
- In your car, turn on headlights, close windows, turn on inside air and AC, tune to local radio.
- Drive slowly and defensively; be observant.
- The best evacuation route is usually the one you know best. Take the fastest paved route to a valley floor, away from the fire if possible. Avoid fire roads.
- Evacuate on foot only as a last resort.
- You are better protected inside a vehicle or building.
- If roads are impassable or you are trapped: take shelter inside a car, building, or an open area; park in an outside turn if trapped on a hillside; stay far from vegetation; look for wide roads, parking lots, playing fields, etc.
Resource credit: CAL FIRE and FIRESafe MARIN