In the worst case situation where a wildfire is approaching yourself, you will need to evacuate and take the appropriate measures to protect yourself and your family.
Preparing for Evacuation
Here are a few things that you can do to prepare for evacuations before the incidents happen. It’s important to make emergency supply kits that are ready to go as soon as they are needed. It’s a good idea to keep a couple in your car and to have them pre-packed so you don’t have to worry about stuffing things into bags when the fire is coming.
- Make a home inventory. In the case that your house is destroyed in a fire, it will be easier to report losses for income tax purposes as well as give you an accurate idea of how much insurance to purchase.
- Prepare emergency supply kits for each person. Backpacks are very efficient for carrying these supply items (except water and food)
- 3 day supply of non-perishable food
- 3 gallons of water per person
- Medications and prescriptions
- Change of clothing
- Extra glasses or contacts
- You wallet: credit cards, cash, traveler’s checks
- First aid kit
- Portable radio
- Copies of important documents (social security, birth certificates, passports)
- Pet food and water
- If you have extra time and space, also consider rounding up your easily carried valuables, family photos, irreplaceable items, personal computer information on hard drives, chargers for phones and laptops.
Right Before Evacuation
If you’ve been given a warning or watch alert for a wildfire, you should start getting ready for evacuation. Here are some things to do to prepare your house and your family so that you suffer as little damage as possible. Remember that houses and things are ultimately replaceable, but your lives and bodies are not. If a wildfire reaches your house, there is not really anything you can do to stop it. The best you can do is ensure that your loved ones get out safely.
- Consistently monitor the situation and look out for stray embers and small flames. If you feel danger, don’t wait for an evacuation notice; trust your instincts and get to a safe place.
- Stay informed, alert, and aware.
- Close all windows and doors, but keep them unlocked.
- Remove light curtains and move flammable furniture to the center of the room.
- Turn off air conditioning, water, gas, and electricity.
- Put flammable outdoor items indoors or in a pool.
- Turn off propane tanks, and move propane appliances (BBQ grills) away from the house.
- Have a ladder available and place it outside for firefighters to use if they need to access the roof.
- Wear clothes that cover up your skin and protect you from heat and flames: long pants, long sleeves, a hat, goggles or glasses, a dry bandana to cover your face, and heavy boots.
- Keep your car keys with you if you plan on evacuating by car.
- Check on your neighbors, locate your pets, and plan to move farm animals (transport them to a safe place earlier rather than later in preparation).
Do your best to stay together with your family and evacuating party. Stay calm and focus on getting to safety.
- Follow all instructions given by local fire officials or law enforcement.
- Stay calm. Follow the evacuation plan and focus on reaching your planned emergency meeting area.
- If you are caught evacuating on foot by the wildfire, find a space clear of vegetation and stay there. Lie face down and cover your body. If you can find a road ditch, that can shelter you as well. Avoid canyons, because they intensify fires.
- If you are caught in your vehicle, park it in an area clear of vegetation. Close all windows and vents. Cover yourself with a wool blanket or jacket.
- If you are caught in your house and are unable to evacuate, keep everyone together in the center of the room. Fill up your sinks and tubs with cold water. It will get hot inside, but it’s much hotter outside. Stay inside and away from walls and windows.
The best situation would see your loved ones safe and your home untouched. Here are some things to keep in mind as you regroup your life after an emergency evacuation.
- Contact your insurance company or agent as soon as possible to give them your situation.
- Keep your receipts. Many out-of-pocket expenses can be reimbursed through homeowner policies.
- When returning to your house, be aware of downed power lines and damaged propane tanks, regulators, and lines. Make sure all of these things are okay before turning on any gas.
- Take pictures of damaged areas.
Wildfires are extremely dangerous and scary; evacuation is an important thing to practice and prepare for—every year. For more information on how smoke alarms can protect your house to give you an early warning so that you can stop the fire early or evacuate in time, call Protect America today at 1-888-951-5136.
Thank you for reading our series on wildfire protection. Protection is our priority, and we know how dangerous fires are to your home and your family.