When Wildfire Approaches

Living with fireDefensible Space | Defensible Space FAQ | Wildfire Approaches | Lean, Green, and Clean

Should a house be threatened by wildfire, the occupants may be advised to evacuate by a law enforcement or fire official.  The purpose of evacuation is to protect people from life-threatening situations.  Homeowners, however, do have the right to stay on the property if they so desire, and so long as their activities do not hinder firefighting efforts.  If the occupants are not contacted in time to evacuate or if the owners decide to stay with their homes, the suggestions provided in the following checklist will assist in protecting their property and family.

  • Evacuate, if possible, all family members not essential to protecting the house, as well as pets.

  • Contact a friend or relative and relay  your plans.

  • Make sure family members are aware of a prearranged meeting place.

  • Tune in to a local radio station and listen for instructions.

  • Place vehicles in the garage, have them pointing out, and roll up windows.

  • Place valuable papers and mementos in the car.

  • Close the garage door, but leave it unlocked.  If applicable, disconnect the electric garage door opener so the door can be opened manually.

  • Place combustible patio furniture in the house or garage.

  • Shut off propane at the tank or natural gas at the meter.

  • Wear only cotton or wool clothes.  Proper attire includes long pants, long-sleeved shirt or jacket, and boots.  Carry gloves, a handkerchief to cover your face, water to drink, and goggles.

  • Close all exterior vents.

  • Prop a ladder against the house so firefighters have easy access to the roof.

  • Make sure all garden hoses are connected to faucets and attach a nozzle set on “spray.”

  • Soak rags, towels, or small rugs with water to use in beating out embers or small fires.

  • Inside, fill bathtubs, sinks, and other containers with water.  Outside, do the same with garbage cans and buckets.  Remember that the water heater and toilet tank are available sources of water.

  • Close all exterior doors and windows.

  • Close all interior doors.

  • Open the fireplace damper, but place the screen over the hearth to prevent sparks and embers from entering the house.

  • Leave a light on in each room.

  • Remove lightweight and/or non-fire resistant curtains, and other combustible materials from around windows.

  • If available, close fire-resistant drapes, shutters, or venetian blinds.  Attach pre-cut plywood panels to the exterior side of windows and glass doors

  • Turn off all pilot lights.

  • Move overstuffed furniture (e.g., couches, easy chairs, etc) to the center of the room.

  • Keep wood shake or shingle roofs moist by spraying water.  Do not waste water.  Consider placing a lawn sprinkler on the roof if water pressure is adequate. Do not turn on until burning embers begin to fall on the roof.

  • Continually check the roof and attic for embers, smoke, or fire.

If a fire should occur within the house, contact the fire department immediately.  Continue to inspect your home and property for embers and smoke.

Most importantly, STAY CALM!