Posted by: prepare4 | March 25, 2009

Wildfire: The Holocaust in your Backyard

Wildfire: The Holocaust in your Backyard
By Carolyn Nicolaysen

During the 2006 calendar year there were 96,385 wildfires in the United States. They destroyed 9,873,745 acres of land and more than 2500 homes. In Australia, wildfires continue to threaten drought stricken areas — not just bushland, but also towns and cities including Sydney that have large tracts of forest that wind through the boroughs of metropolitan areas.

Wildfires are the fastest growing disaster threat in the United States and in many areas of the world. As more people build homes in wooded areas, forests, and rural areas, they put themselves at added risk from wildfire. Smaller and smaller lot sizes in cities also increase the danger of a fire racing out of control. Combine these factors with drought, excessive heat and or high winds and these fires can be nearly unstoppable.

I remember clearly the Oakland Hills,

California fire in October 1991. It was truly one of the most frightening scenes I ever witnessed. We watched as house after house literally exploded from the heat of the fire. One minute there was a gorgeous million-dollar home, and in the next minute it was fully engulfed by the inferno.  Before the fire was contained, 25 lives were lost and 2,900 structures destroyed in the hills that overlook one of America’s largest cities.

In the fall of 2003, a wildfire in

San Diego County developed into the most costly fire disaster in California history. Before it was contained it killed 16 people and destroyed 2,427 homes and businesses. Experts say many San Diego neighborhoods, including Scripps Ranch, are fire traps. They predict that if Santa Ana Winds are present the day a fire begins, the fire will be unstoppable and go out only when it reaches the Pacific Ocean. Experts predict the same fate awaits residents of West Austin, Texas — which they estimate may take only eight hours to burn in a worst case scenario.

Wildfires often burn unnoticed until the task of fighting them becomes overwhelming. They spread quickly, igniting brush, trees, outbuildings and homes. No household sprinkler system, fire extinguisher or garden hose is up to the task of containing a wildfire.

There are many things we can do right now to prepare for the upcoming fire season. Begin by learning as much as you can about the history of wildfire in your area. Local government websites are a great resource for this information. Be aware of weather that can add to the fire danger, such as

Santa Ana winds in southern California. A long period without rain, even if not officially a drought, increases the risk of wildfire as vegetation dries out and housing expands into forested areas.

Before Wildfire Threatens

  • Have a building professional inspect your property and offer recommendations for reducing the wildfire risk.
  • Have a landscaping professional inspect your property and make recommendations for reducing your risks.
  • Regularly clean roof and gutters.
  • Inspect and clean chimneys at least once a year. Make sure you inspect the damper and spark arrester as well.
  • Install half-inch mesh screen beneath porches, decks, floor areas and the home itself. Also, screen openings to floors, roof and attic.
  • Install a smoke/carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home, especially outside bedrooms. Test batteries monthly and change them once a year. Changing them on the same day each year will help you remember. Choose a day such as a birthday or holiday.
  • Purchase at least one good, large, fire extinguisher (ABC type)
  • Purchase or organize items that can be used as fire fighting tools: a rake, axe, handsaw or chainsaw, hose, bucket, shovel and bag of sand.
  • Enclose eaves and overhangs.
  • Cover house vents with fourth-inch, or smaller, wire mesh. Any attic vent, louver, attic fan, or other opening may allow embers and flaming debris to enter your home and ignite.
  • Use fire-resistant siding and roofing materials. If you currently have a shake roof or wood siding, replace it as soon as possible. Shake roofing and wood siding will allow your home to be engulfed in a very short time.
  • Choose safety glass for windows and sliding glass doors. Radiated heat passing through a windowpane can ignite combustible materials inside. Dual- or triple-pane thermal glass, fire resistant shutters, and drapes all help reduce the risk.
  • Consider installing protective shutters or heavy fire-resistant drapes.
  • Prepare for water storage. After a fire, water supplies may be limited. Create and maintain a small pond, well or pool and store extra water.
  • Install freeze-proof exterior water faucets on at least two sides of your home and near other structures on the property. If you cannot do this make sure you have the materials available to wrap and protect your pipes so in the event of a fire you don’t find yourself without water.
  • Consider purchasing a generator to provide power after the fire has passed. Electric service will probably be down for several days.
  • Make sure your house number is clearly visible from the road, making it easier for fire fighters to find your home quickly.
  • Purchase escape ladders for second floor bedrooms.
  • Make a list of the phone numbers, both landline and cell, for your neighbors. We have friends who were involved in the last

    • San Diego wildfire and they never received an evacuation warning, but they noticed the flames approaching and called their neighbors’ cell phones, and knocked on their doors as they were evacuating. Thanks to their efforts everyone on their block made it out safely.

    Create a Family Plan

    • Teach children about fire safety. Keep matches out of their reach.
    • Teach older children to use a fire extinguisher.
    • Teach your family to have a bucket of sand or water nearby when barbecuing, using tools or toys that create sparks, or when using fireworks.
    • Post fire emergency telephone numbers.
    • Plan several escape routes away from your home — by car and by foot — and practice them as a family.
    • Review with your family how officials will warn you if there is danger.
    • Create a plan in case you are not at home when the emergency arises, and your children need to evacuate.
    • Teach your family about the importance of keeping your property clean to help prevent fires.
    • Plan two exits from your home in case doors or windows are blocked by an exterior fire. Practice evacuating using both exits.
    • Practice evacuating your home in the middle of the night.
    • Plan how your family will stay in touch if you are separated by a wildfire. All family members should know the name and phone number for your out-of-state contact.
    • Choose a meeting place outside your neighborhood in case you can’t return home. Hold a drill to practice gathering at this location.
    • Post emergency telephone numbers by every phone and teach your children how and when to use them.

    Create a Neighborhood Plan

    Talk to your neighbors about what they are doing now to prepare for the fire season and how they might be able to respond to fire reports in the area. There may be things you can do together to prevent the spread of fire, and to survive if one occurs.

    • Gather and distribute a list of home and cell phone numbers for emergencies.
    • Decide on a channel to use on walkie-talkies to communicate during a crisis.
    • Identify potential fire hazards.
    • Determine which hazards can be corrected by working together.
    • Notify the proper authorities to correct the problem.
    • Identify roadways which are blocked or poorly marked. During a fire the line down the center of the road may be your only guide. If roads need attention notify the city or county authorities.
    • Create a plan for how the neighborhood could work together after a wildfire. Make a list of your neighbors’ skills, such as medical, construction or technical.
    • Consider how you could help neighbors who have special needs such as seniors or people with disabilities.
    • Make plans to take care of children who may be on their own if their parents can’t get home.
    • Make a list of neighbors with heavy equipment and other fire-fighting tools.
    • Develop a neighborhood plan for things that need to be done.
    • Develop a neighborhood phone tree.
    • Plan a neighborhood meeting with the fire department to have questions answered and to get advice.

    Create a Safety Zone around Your Home

    Design and landscape your home with wildfire safety in mind. All vegetation is fuel for a wildfire, though some trees and shrubs are more flammable than others. The greater the distance between your home and the vegetation, the greater your protection.

    You can take steps now to reduce the potential for disaster. Homes built in pine forests should have a minimum safety zone of 100 feet. Fire spreads very quickly uphill. Homes built on a steep slope therefore, will require additional protection. The steeper the slope, the more open space you will need to protect your home. All other homes should have a 30-foot safety zone around them.

    • Move shrubs and other landscaping away from the sides of the house.
    • Cut and water lawns often.
    • Prune branches and shrubs to allow for 15 feet between vegetation and chimneys and stove pipes.
    • Prune tree limbs 15 feet above the ground.
    • Prune tree limbs so they don’t overhang the roof.
    • Replace highly flammable vegetation such as pine, eucalyptus, junipers and firs with less flammable varieties. If in doubt, ask
    • Call your local fire department or landscape professional for suggestions.
    • Remove vines from the walls of your house, outbuildings and garden walls.
    • Remove all dead tree branches from the ground-level up (these act as ladder fuels for the approaching fire).
    • Clear the area of leaves, brush, and fallen limbs.
    • Remove debris from under sun decks and porches.
    • Replace wooden decks with non-combustible materials such as concrete, brick, rock, or man-made materials. Building a deck structure at ground level will eliminate the danger of a fire starting under a deck.
    • Use non-combustible patio furniture and covers.
    • Adding a brick or rock wall around your property will help prevent a grass fire from threatening your home.
    • Patios and pools are also great improvements in a 30-foot safety zone.
    • When possible, install electrical lines underground.
    • If you notice branches around power lines, ask the power company to clear them.
    • Avoid using bark and wood chip mulch.
    • Stack firewood 100 feet away and uphill from any structure.
    • Store combustible or flammable materials in approved safety containers away from your home.
    • Keep the gas grill and propane tank at least 15 feet from any structure. Clear an area 10 feet around the grill.
    • Clear at least a 10-foot area around propane tanks.
    • Dispose of newspapers. Do not allow them to stack up.
    • Place stove, fireplace and grill ashes in a metal bucket far from structures. Soak with water.
    • Have garden hoses that are long enough to reach any area of your home and other structures on your property.

    When Wildfire Threatens

    If you are warned that a wildfire is threatening your area, listen to your radio for reports and evacuation information. Follow the instructions of local officials immediately. While you wait for the order to evacuate:

    • Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape. Shut the doors, but do not lock them, and roll up windows. Leave the key in the ignition or make sure it is in your pocket at all times. Close garage windows and doors, but leave them unlocked. Disconnect automatic garage door openers, just in case the electricity goes out.
    • Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape. Shut the doors, but do not lock them, and roll up windows. Leave the key in the ignition or make sure it is in your pocket at all times. Close garage windows and doors, but leave them unlocked. Disconnect automatic garage door openers, just in case the electricity goes out.
    • Gather pets into one room, making them easy to find when it is time to leave.
    • Evacuate large animals, such as horses, to a safe location.
    • Arrange temporary housing at a friend’s home outside the threatened area.
    • Notify your out-of-state emergency contact of your plans and give them the phone number and address of the place you will evacuate to.
    • Load your 72-hour kits and important family possessions in your car.
    • Place pet supplies and leashes in the car.
    • Place maps in the car with at least two evacuation routes clearly marked.
    • Change into protective clothing including long pants, long-sleeved shirt, heavy socks and sturdy shoes.
    • Have hand towels or bandanas ready for each member of the family.
    • Contact your neighbors to make sure they have heard the warnings.
    • Close all windows and vents.
    • Move flammable furniture into the center of the home away from windows and sliding-glass doors.
    • Move all flammable patio furniture indoors.
    • Turn on a light in each room and also your outdoor lights, to increase the visibility of your home in heavy smoke.

    If Advised to Evacuate, Do It Immediately

    • Wet the towels or bandanas you have set aside and take them with you. Holding these over your nose will help you breath in a smoky environment.
    • Lock your home.
    • Call you neighbors as you are leaving. Warn them if you are aware of an escape route that is blocked.
    • Call family members who were staying at other homes to inform them where you are going.
    • Call your out of state contact to inform them you are heading for the safe location you have given them earlier.
    • When you have reached your destination, gather all your family members to that location.

    Survival in a Vehicle

    This is very dangerous and should only be done in an extreme emergency, but you can survive a firestorm if you stay in your car. Outrunning a firestorm on foot is almost always impossible.

    • Roll up windows and close air vents. Drive slowly with headlights on. Watch for other vehicles and pedestrians. Do not drive through heavy smoke.
    • If you are forced to stop, park away from trees and brush. Turn headlights on and ignition off. Roll up windows and close air vents.
    • Get on the floor and cover up with a blanket or coat.
    • Breathe through a cloth.
    • Stay in the vehicle until the main fire passes.
    • Stay in the car! Do not run! Be prepared for the temperature to dramatically increase and for air currents, caused by the fire, to rock the car. Gas tanks can explode but rarely do unless they are punctured.

    If You Are Trapped at Home

    Stay calm. As the fire front approaches, go inside the house. You can survive a fast-moving wildfire, but this should always be a last resort and never your first choice!

    • Close all windows and exterior doors
    • Close all interior doors.
    • Go to the center of the house.
    • Stuff towels or blankets under the door to help prevent smoke from entering the room.
    • Lie on the floor and cover up with a blanket. A wool blanket is best as it will take longer to ignite.
    • Breathe through a wet cloth

    What to do After a Wildfire

    • Check the roof immediately. Put out any fires, sparks or embers.
    • Check the attic for hidden burning or smoldering sparks.
    • Put out any small remaining brush fires.
    • The water you put into your pool, hot tub, or water storage barrels can be siphoned to provide water if the electricity is off and your well isn’t working or if community water supplies are interrupted. You can also connect a hose to the outlet on your water heater for added water supply.
    • Rake any areas that appear to be smoldering and extinguish any embers you find.
    • Check the inside of your home for any embers that may have entered.
    • For several hours after the fire, maintain a fire watch by walking around your home inside and out, checking for any new hot spots.

    It is so important to research the risk of wildfire in the area where you live. We have lived in our community for 20 years and have not seen a wildfire here, except for grass fires on neighboring farms that were quickly put out by our fire department. No headlines here.

    But those who have lived in our town longer than we have remember a fire that swept through the river bottom areas that adjoin our town (less than a mile from our neighborhood), which created real fear and panic that it would spread to neighborhoods and burn the city.

    So, even if there is not a recent memory of such events, that does not mean the danger is diminished, but may in fact mean the risk has quietly grown worse with years of new undergrowth in wilderness areas, while residential areas have encroached deeper into that wilderness.

    The time to clear a fire break between our home and the path of a wildfire is now. Preparing home and family must also be done now, and not later. At its root, this takes spiritual as well intellectual commitment. As an American evangelist once said: “Heaven is a prepared place, for a prepared people.”

    Like judgment day, a wildfire emergency offers no postponements, and no deferments. When smoke and flames approach, it is too late to do any more than implement the preparations we have already put in place, keep a cool head, and trust in the Lord.

Create a Family Plan

  • Teach children about fire safety. Keep matches out of their reach.
  • Teach older children to use a fire extinguisher.
  • Teach your family to have a bucket of sand or water nearby when barbecuing, using tools or toys that create sparks, or when using fireworks.
  • Post fire emergency telephone numbers.
  • Plan several escape routes away from your home — by car and by foot — and practice them as a family.
  • Review with your family how officials will warn you if there is danger.
  • Create a plan in case you are not at home when the emergency arises, and your children need to evacuate.
  • Teach your family about the importance of keeping your property clean to help prevent fires.
  • Plan two exits from your home in case doors or windows are blocked by an exterior fire. Practice evacuating using both exits.
  • Practice evacuating your home in the middle of the night.
  • Plan how your family will stay in touch if you are separated by a wildfire. All family members should know the name and phone number for your out-of-state contact.
  • Choose a meeting place outside your neighborhood in case you can’t return home. Hold a drill to practice gathering at this location.
  • Post emergency telephone numbers by every phone and teach your children how and when to use them.

Create a Neighborhood Plan

Talk to your neighbors about what they are doing now to prepare for the fire season and how they might be able to respond to fire reports in the area. There may be things you can do together to prevent the spread of fire, and to survive if one occurs.

  • Gather and distribute a list of home and cell phone numbers for emergencies.
  • Decide on a channel to use on walkie-talkies to communicate during a crisis.
  • Identify potential fire hazards.
  • Determine which hazards can be corrected by working together.
  • Notify the proper authorities to correct the problem.
  • Identify roadways which are blocked or poorly marked. During a fire the line down the center of the road may be your only guide. If roads need attention notify the city or county authorities.
  • Create a plan for how the neighborhood could work together after a wildfire. Make a list of your neighbors’ skills, such as medical, construction or technical.
  • Consider how you could help neighbors who have special needs such as seniors or people with disabilities.
  • Make plans to take care of children who may be on their own if their parents can’t get home.
  • Make a list of neighbors with heavy equipment and other fire-fighting tools.
  • Develop a neighborhood plan for things that need to be done.
  • Develop a neighborhood phone tree.
  • Plan a neighborhood meeting with the fire department to have questions answered and to get advice.

Create a Safety Zone around Your Home

Design and landscape your home with wildfire safety in mind. All vegetation is fuel for a wildfire, though some trees and shrubs are more flammable than others. The greater the distance between your home and the vegetation, the greater your protection.

You can take steps now to reduce the potential for disaster. Homes built in pine forests should have a minimum safety zone of 100 feet. Fire spreads very quickly uphill. Homes built on a steep slope therefore, will require additional protection. The steeper the slope, the more open space you will need to protect your home. All other homes should have a 30-foot safety zone around them.

  • Move shrubs and other landscaping away from the sides of the house.
  • Cut and water lawns often.
  • Prune branches and shrubs to allow for 15 feet between vegetation and chimneys and stove pipes.
  • Prune tree limbs 15 feet above the ground.
  • Prune tree limbs so they don’t overhang the roof.
  • Replace highly flammable vegetation such as pine, eucalyptus, junipers and firs with less flammable varieties. If in doubt, ask
  • Call your local fire department or landscape professional for suggestions.
  • Remove vines from the walls of your house, outbuildings and garden walls.
  • Remove all dead tree branches from the ground-level up (these act as ladder fuels for the approaching fire).
  • Clear the area of leaves, brush, and fallen limbs.
  • Remove debris from under sun decks and porches.
  • Replace wooden decks with non-combustible materials such as concrete, brick, rock, or man-made materials. Building a deck structure at ground level will eliminate the danger of a fire starting under a deck.
  • Use non-combustible patio furniture and covers.
  • Adding a brick or rock wall around your property will help prevent a grass fire from threatening your home.
  • Patios and pools are also great improvements in a 30-foot safety zone.
  • When possible, install electrical lines underground.
  • If you notice branches around power lines, ask the power company to clear them.
  • Avoid using bark and wood chip mulch.
  • Stack firewood 100 feet away and uphill from any structure.
  • Store combustible or flammable materials in approved safety containers away from your home.
  • Keep the gas grill and propane tank at least 15 feet from any structure. Clear an area 10 feet around the grill.
  • Clear at least a 10-foot area around propane tanks.
  • Dispose of newspapers. Do not allow them to stack up.
  • Place stove, fireplace and grill ashes in a metal bucket far from structures. Soak with water.
  • Have garden hoses that are long enough to reach any area of your home and other structures on your property.

When Wildfire Threatens

If you are warned that a wildfire is threatening your area, listen to your radio for reports and evacuation information. Follow the instructions of local officials immediately. While you wait for the order to evacuate:

  • Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape. Shut the doors, but do not lock them, and roll up windows. Leave the key in the ignition or make sure it is in your pocket at all times. Close garage windows and doors, but leave them unlocked. Disconnect automatic garage door openers, just in case the electricity goes out.
  • Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape. Shut the doors, but do not lock them, and roll up windows. Leave the key in the ignition or make sure it is in your pocket at all times. Close garage windows and doors, but leave them unlocked. Disconnect automatic garage door openers, just in case the electricity goes out.
  • Gather pets into one room, making them easy to find when it is time to leave.
  • Evacuate large animals, such as horses, to a safe location.
  • Arrange temporary housing at a friend’s home outside the threatened area.
  • Notify your out-of-state emergency contact of your plans and give them the phone number and address of the place you will evacuate to.
  • Load your 72-hour kits and important family possessions in your car.
  • Place pet supplies and leashes in the car.
  • Place maps in the car with at least two evacuation routes clearly marked.
  • Change into protective clothing including long pants, long-sleeved shirt, heavy socks and sturdy shoes.
  • Have hand towels or bandanas ready for each member of the family.
  • Contact your neighbors to make sure they have heard the warnings.
  • Close all windows and vents.
  • Move flammable furniture into the center of the home away from windows and sliding-glass doors.
  • Move all flammable patio furniture indoors.
  • Turn on a light in each room and also your outdoor lights, to increase the visibility of your home in heavy smoke.

If Advised to Evacuate, Do It Immediately

  • Wet the towels or bandanas you have set aside and take them with you. Holding these over your nose will help you breath in a smoky environment.
  • Lock your home.
  • Call you neighbors as you are leaving. Warn them if you are aware of an escape route that is blocked.
  • Call family members who were staying at other homes to inform them where you are going.
  • Call your out of state contact to inform them you are heading for the safe location you have given them earlier.
  • When you have reached your destination, gather all your family members to that location.

Survival in a Vehicle

This is very dangerous and should only be done in an extreme emergency, but you can survive a firestorm if you stay in your car. Outrunning a firestorm on foot is almost always impossible.

  • Roll up windows and close air vents. Drive slowly with headlights on. Watch for other vehicles and pedestrians. Do not drive through heavy smoke.
  • If you are forced to stop, park away from trees and brush. Turn headlights on and ignition off. Roll up windows and close air vents.
  • Get on the floor and cover up with a blanket or coat.
  • Breathe through a cloth.
  • Stay in the vehicle until the main fire passes.
  • Stay in the car! Do not run! Be prepared for the temperature to dramatically increase and for air currents, caused by the fire, to rock the car. Gas tanks can explode but rarely do unless they are punctured.

If You Are Trapped at Home

Stay calm. As the fire front approaches, go inside the house. You can survive a fast-moving wildfire, but this should always be a last resort and never your first choice!

  • Close all windows and exterior doors
  • Close all interior doors.
  • Go to the center of the house.
  • Stuff towels or blankets under the door to help prevent smoke from entering the room.
  • Lie on the floor and cover up with a blanket. A wool blanket is best as it will take longer to ignite.
  • Breathe through a wet cloth

What to do After a Wildfire

  • Check the roof immediately. Put out any fires, sparks or embers.
  • Check the attic for hidden burning or smoldering sparks.
  • Put out any small remaining brush fires.
  • The water you put into your pool, hot tub, or water storage barrels can be siphoned to provide water if the electricity is off and your well isn’t working or if community water supplies are interrupted. You can also connect a hose to the outlet on your water heater for added water supply.
  • Rake any areas that appear to be smoldering and extinguish any embers you find.
  • Check the inside of your home for any embers that may have entered.
  • For several hours after the fire, maintain a fire watch by walking around your home inside and out, checking for any new hot spots.

It is so important to research the risk of wildfire in the area where you live. We have lived in our community for 20 years and have not seen a wildfire here, except for grass fires on neighboring farms that were quickly put out by our fire department. No headlines here.

But those who have lived in our town longer than we have remember a fire that swept through the river bottom areas that adjoin our town (less than a mile from our neighborhood), which created real fear and panic that it would spread to neighborhoods and burn the city.

So, even if there is not a recent memory of such events, that does not mean the danger is diminished, but may in fact mean the risk has quietly grown worse with years of new undergrowth in wilderness areas, while residential areas have encroached deeper into that wilderness.

The time to clear a fire break between our home and the path of a wildfire is now. Preparing home and family must also be done now, and not later. At its root, this takes spiritual as well intellectual commitment. As an American evangelist once said: “Heaven is a prepared place, for a prepared people.”

Like judgment day, a wildfire emergency offers no postponements, and no deferments. When smoke and flames approach, it is too late to do any more than implement the preparations we have already put in place, keep a cool head, and trust in the Lord.

Before Wildfire Threatens

  • Have a building professional inspect your property and offer recommendations for reducing the wildfire risk.
  • Have a landscaping professional inspect your property and make recommendations for reducing your risks.
  • Regularly clean roof and gutters.
  • Inspect and clean chimneys at least once a year. Make sure you inspect the damper and spark arrester as well.
  • Install half-inch mesh screen beneath porches, decks, floor areas and the home itself. Also, screen openings to floors, roof and attic.
  • Install a smoke/carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home, especially outside bedrooms. Test batteries monthly and change them once a year. Changing them on the same day each year will help you remember. Choose a day such as a birthday or holiday.
  • Purchase at least one good, large, fire extinguisher (ABC type)
  • Purchase or organize items that can be used as fire fighting tools: a rake, axe, handsaw or chainsaw, hose, bucket, shovel and bag of sand.
  • Enclose eaves and overhangs.
  • Cover house vents with fourth-inch, or smaller, wire mesh. Any attic vent, louver, attic fan, or other opening may allow embers and flaming debris to enter your home and ignite.
  • Use fire-resistant siding and roofing materials. If you currently have a shake roof or wood siding, replace it as soon as possible. Shake roofing and wood siding will allow your home to be engulfed in a very short time.
  • Choose safety glass for windows and sliding glass doors. Radiated heat passing through a windowpane can ignite combustible materials inside. Dual- or triple-pane thermal glass, fire resistant shutters, and drapes all help reduce the risk.
  • Consider installing protective shutters or heavy fire-resistant drapes.
  • Prepare for water storage. After a fire, water supplies may be limited. Create and maintain a small pond, well or pool and store extra water.
  • Install freeze-proof exterior water faucets on at least two sides of your home and near other structures on the property. If you cannot do this make sure you have the materials available to wrap and protect your pipes so in the event of a fire you don’t find yourself without water.
  • Consider purchasing a generator to provide power after the fire has passed. Electric service will probably be down for several days.
  • Make sure your house number is clearly visible from the road, making it easier for fire fighters to find your home quickly.
  • Purchase escape ladders for second floor bedrooms.
  • Make a list of the phone numbers, both landline and cell, for your neighbors. We have friends who were involved in the last

    • San Diego wildfire and they never received an evacuation warning, but they noticed the flames approaching and called their neighbors’ cell phones, and knocked on their doors as they were evacuating. Thanks to their efforts everyone on their block made it out safely.

    Create a Family Plan

    • Teach children about fire safety. Keep matches out of their reach.
    • Teach older children to use a fire extinguisher.
    • Teach your family to have a bucket of sand or water nearby when barbecuing, using tools or toys that create sparks, or when using fireworks.
    • Post fire emergency telephone numbers.
    • Plan several escape routes away from your home — by car and by foot — and practice them as a family.
    • Review with your family how officials will warn you if there is danger.
    • Create a plan in case you are not at home when the emergency arises, and your children need to evacuate.
    • Teach your family about the importance of keeping your property clean to help prevent fires.
    • Plan two exits from your home in case doors or windows are blocked by an exterior fire. Practice evacuating using both exits.
    • Practice evacuating your home in the middle of the night.
    • Plan how your family will stay in touch if you are separated by a wildfire. All family members should know the name and phone number for your out-of-state contact.
    • Choose a meeting place outside your neighborhood in case you can’t return home. Hold a drill to practice gathering at this location.
    • Post emergency telephone numbers by every phone and teach your children how and when to use them.

    Create a Neighborhood Plan

    Talk to your neighbors about what they are doing now to prepare for the fire season and how they might be able to respond to fire reports in the area. There may be things you can do together to prevent the spread of fire, and to survive if one occurs.

    • Gather and distribute a list of home and cell phone numbers for emergencies.
    • Decide on a channel to use on walkie-talkies to communicate during a crisis.
    • Identify potential fire hazards.
    • Determine which hazards can be corrected by working together.
    • Notify the proper authorities to correct the problem.
    • Identify roadways which are blocked or poorly marked. During a fire the line down the center of the road may be your only guide. If roads need attention notify the city or county authorities.
    • Create a plan for how the neighborhood could work together after a wildfire. Make a list of your neighbors’ skills, such as medical, construction or technical.
    • Consider how you could help neighbors who have special needs such as seniors or people with disabilities.
    • Make plans to take care of children who may be on their own if their parents can’t get home.
    • Make a list of neighbors with heavy equipment and other fire-fighting tools.
    • Develop a neighborhood plan for things that need to be done.
    • Develop a neighborhood phone tree.
    • Plan a neighborhood meeting with the fire department to have questions answered and to get advice.

    Create a Safety Zone around Your Home

    Design and landscape your home with wildfire safety in mind. All vegetation is fuel for a wildfire, though some trees and shrubs are more flammable than others. The greater the distance between your home and the vegetation, the greater your protection.

    You can take steps now to reduce the potential for disaster. Homes built in pine forests should have a minimum safety zone of 100 feet. Fire spreads very quickly uphill. Homes built on a steep slope therefore, will require additional protection. The steeper the slope, the more open space you will need to protect your home. All other homes should have a 30-foot safety zone around them.

    • Move shrubs and other landscaping away from the sides of the house.
    • Cut and water lawns often.
    • Prune branches and shrubs to allow for 15 feet between vegetation and chimneys and stove pipes.
    • Prune tree limbs 15 feet above the ground.
    • Prune tree limbs so they don’t overhang the roof.
    • Replace highly flammable vegetation such as pine, eucalyptus, junipers and firs with less flammable varieties. If in doubt, ask
    • Call your local fire department or landscape professional for suggestions.
    • Remove vines from the walls of your house, outbuildings and garden walls.
    • Remove all dead tree branches from the ground-level up (these act as ladder fuels for the approaching fire).
    • Clear the area of leaves, brush, and fallen limbs.
    • Remove debris from under sun decks and porches.
    • Replace wooden decks with non-combustible materials such as concrete, brick, rock, or man-made materials. Building a deck structure at ground level will eliminate the danger of a fire starting under a deck.
    • Use non-combustible patio furniture and covers.
    • Adding a brick or rock wall around your property will help prevent a grass fire from threatening your home.
    • Patios and pools are also great improvements in a 30-foot safety zone.
    • When possible, install electrical lines underground.
    • If you notice branches around power lines, ask the power company to clear them.
    • Avoid using bark and wood chip mulch.
    • Stack firewood 100 feet away and uphill from any structure.
    • Store combustible or flammable materials in approved safety containers away from your home.
    • Keep the gas grill and propane tank at least 15 feet from any structure. Clear an area 10 feet around the grill.
    • Clear at least a 10-foot area around propane tanks.
    • Dispose of newspapers. Do not allow them to stack up.
    • Place stove, fireplace and grill ashes in a metal bucket far from structures. Soak with water.
    • Have garden hoses that are long enough to reach any area of your home and other structures on your property.

    When Wildfire Threatens

    If you are warned that a wildfire is threatening your area, listen to your radio for reports and evacuation information. Follow the instructions of local officials immediately. While you wait for the order to evacuate:

    • Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape. Shut the doors, but do not lock them, and roll up windows. Leave the key in the ignition or make sure it is in your pocket at all times. Close garage windows and doors, but leave them unlocked. Disconnect automatic garage door openers, just in case the electricity goes out.
    • Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape. Shut the doors, but do not lock them, and roll up windows. Leave the key in the ignition or make sure it is in your pocket at all times. Close garage windows and doors, but leave them unlocked. Disconnect automatic garage door openers, just in case the electricity goes out.
    • Gather pets into one room, making them easy to find when it is time to leave.
    • Evacuate large animals, such as horses, to a safe location.
    • Arrange temporary housing at a friend’s home outside the threatened area.
    • Notify your out-of-state emergency contact of your plans and give them the phone number and address of the place you will evacuate to.
    • Load your 72-hour kits and important family possessions in your car.
    • Place pet supplies and leashes in the car.
    • Place maps in the car with at least two evacuation routes clearly marked.
    • Change into protective clothing including long pants, long-sleeved shirt, heavy socks and sturdy shoes.
    • Have hand towels or bandanas ready for each member of the family.
    • Contact your neighbors to make sure they have heard the warnings.
    • Close all windows and vents.
    • Move flammable furniture into the center of the home away from windows and sliding-glass doors.
    • Move all flammable patio furniture indoors.
    • Turn on a light in each room and also your outdoor lights, to increase the visibility of your home in heavy smoke.

    If Advised to Evacuate, Do It Immediately

    • Wet the towels or bandanas you have set aside and take them with you. Holding these over your nose will help you breath in a smoky environment.
    • Lock your home.
    • Call you neighbors as you are leaving. Warn them if you are aware of an escape route that is blocked.
    • Call family members who were staying at other homes to inform them where you are going.
    • Call your out of state contact to inform them you are heading for the safe location you have given them earlier.
    • When you have reached your destination, gather all your family members to that location.

    Survival in a Vehicle

    This is very dangerous and should only be done in an extreme emergency, but you can survive a firestorm if you stay in your car. Outrunning a firestorm on foot is almost always impossible.

    • Roll up windows and close air vents. Drive slowly with headlights on. Watch for other vehicles and pedestrians. Do not drive through heavy smoke.
    • If you are forced to stop, park away from trees and brush. Turn headlights on and ignition off. Roll up windows and close air vents.
    • Get on the floor and cover up with a blanket or coat.
    • Breathe through a cloth.
    • Stay in the vehicle until the main fire passes.
    • Stay in the car! Do not run! Be prepared for the temperature to dramatically increase and for air currents, caused by the fire, to rock the car. Gas tanks can explode but rarely do unless they are punctured.

    If You Are Trapped at Home

    Stay calm. As the fire front approaches, go inside the house. You can survive a fast-moving wildfire, but this should always be a last resort and never your first choice!

    • Close all windows and exterior doors
    • Close all interior doors.
    • Go to the center of the house.
    • Stuff towels or blankets under the door to help prevent smoke from entering the room.
    • Lie on the floor and cover up with a blanket. A wool blanket is best as it will take longer to ignite.
    • Breathe through a wet cloth

    What to do After a Wildfire

    • Check the roof immediately. Put out any fires, sparks or embers.
    • Check the attic for hidden burning or smoldering sparks.
    • Put out any small remaining brush fires.
    • The water you put into your pool, hot tub, or water storage barrels can be siphoned to provide water if the electricity is off and your well isn’t working or if community water supplies are interrupted. You can also connect a hose to the outlet on your water heater for added water supply.
    • Rake any areas that appear to be smoldering and extinguish any embers you find.
    • Check the inside of your home for any embers that may have entered.
    • For several hours after the fire, maintain a fire watch by walking around your home inside and out, checking for any new hot spots.

    It is so important to research the risk of wildfire in the area where you live. We have lived in our community for 20 years and have not seen a wildfire here, except for grass fires on neighboring farms that were quickly put out by our fire department. No headlines here.

    But those who have lived in our town longer than we have remember a fire that swept through the river bottom areas that adjoin our town (less than a mile from our neighborhood), which created real fear and panic that it would spread to neighborhoods and burn the city.

    So, even if there is not a recent memory of such events, that does not mean the danger is diminished, but may in fact mean the risk has quietly grown worse with years of new undergrowth in wilderness areas, while residential areas have encroached deeper into that wilderness.

    The time to clear a fire break between our home and the path of a wildfire is now. Preparing home and family must also be done now, and not later. At its root, this takes spiritual as well intellectual commitment. As an American evangelist once said: “Heaven is a prepared place, for a prepared people.”

    Like judgment day, a wildfire emergency offers no postponements, and no deferments. When smoke and flames approach, it is too late to do any more than implement the preparations we have already put in place, keep a cool head, and trust in the Lord.

Create a Family Plan

  • Teach children about fire safety. Keep matches out of their reach.
  • Teach older children to use a fire extinguisher.
  • Teach your family to have a bucket of sand or water nearby when barbecuing, using tools or toys that create sparks, or when using fireworks.
  • Post fire emergency telephone numbers.
  • Plan several escape routes away from your home — by car and by foot — and practice them as a family.
  • Review with your family how officials will warn you if there is danger.
  • Create a plan in case you are not at home when the emergency arises, and your children need to evacuate.
  • Teach your family about the importance of keeping your property clean to help prevent fires.
  • Plan two exits from your home in case doors or windows are blocked by an exterior fire. Practice evacuating using both exits.
  • Practice evacuating your home in the middle of the night.
  • Plan how your family will stay in touch if you are separated by a wildfire. All family members should know the name and phone number for your out-of-state contact.
  • Choose a meeting place outside your neighborhood in case you can’t return home. Hold a drill to practice gathering at this location.
  • Post emergency telephone numbers by every phone and teach your children how and when to use them.

Create a Neighborhood Plan

Talk to your neighbors about what they are doing now to prepare for the fire season and how they might be able to respond to fire reports in the area. There may be things you can do together to prevent the spread of fire, and to survive if one occurs.

  • Gather and distribute a list of home and cell phone numbers for emergencies.
  • Decide on a channel to use on walkie-talkies to communicate during a crisis.
  • Identify potential fire hazards.
  • Determine which hazards can be corrected by working together.
  • Notify the proper authorities to correct the problem.
  • Identify roadways which are blocked or poorly marked. During a fire the line down the center of the road may be your only guide. If roads need attention notify the city or county authorities.
  • Create a plan for how the neighborhood could work together after a wildfire. Make a list of your neighbors’ skills, such as medical, construction or technical.
  • Consider how you could help neighbors who have special needs such as seniors or people with disabilities.
  • Make plans to take care of children who may be on their own if their parents can’t get home.
  • Make a list of neighbors with heavy equipment and other fire-fighting tools.
  • Develop a neighborhood plan for things that need to be done.
  • Develop a neighborhood phone tree.
  • Plan a neighborhood meeting with the fire department to have questions answered and to get advice.

Create a Safety Zone around Your Home

Design and landscape your home with wildfire safety in mind. All vegetation is fuel for a wildfire, though some trees and shrubs are more flammable than others. The greater the distance between your home and the vegetation, the greater your protection.

You can take steps now to reduce the potential for disaster. Homes built in pine forests should have a minimum safety zone of 100 feet. Fire spreads very quickly uphill. Homes built on a steep slope therefore, will require additional protection. The steeper the slope, the more open space you will need to protect your home. All other homes should have a 30-foot safety zone around them.

  • Move shrubs and other landscaping away from the sides of the house.
  • Cut and water lawns often.
  • Prune branches and shrubs to allow for 15 feet between vegetation and chimneys and stove pipes.
  • Prune tree limbs 15 feet above the ground.
  • Prune tree limbs so they don’t overhang the roof.
  • Replace highly flammable vegetation such as pine, eucalyptus, junipers and firs with less flammable varieties. If in doubt, ask
  • Call your local fire department or landscape professional for suggestions.
  • Remove vines from the walls of your house, outbuildings and garden walls.
  • Remove all dead tree branches from the ground-level up (these act as ladder fuels for the approaching fire).
  • Clear the area of leaves, brush, and fallen limbs.
  • Remove debris from under sun decks and porches.
  • Replace wooden decks with non-combustible materials such as concrete, brick, rock, or man-made materials. Building a deck structure at ground level will eliminate the danger of a fire starting under a deck.
  • Use non-combustible patio furniture and covers.
  • Adding a brick or rock wall around your property will help prevent a grass fire from threatening your home.
  • Patios and pools are also great improvements in a 30-foot safety zone.
  • When possible, install electrical lines underground.
  • If you notice branches around power lines, ask the power company to clear them.
  • Avoid using bark and wood chip mulch.
  • Stack firewood 100 feet away and uphill from any structure.
  • Store combustible or flammable materials in approved safety containers away from your home.
  • Keep the gas grill and propane tank at least 15 feet from any structure. Clear an area 10 feet around the grill.
  • Clear at least a 10-foot area around propane tanks.
  • Dispose of newspapers. Do not allow them to stack up.
  • Place stove, fireplace and grill ashes in a metal bucket far from structures. Soak with water.
  • Have garden hoses that are long enough to reach any area of your home and other structures on your property.

When Wildfire Threatens

If you are warned that a wildfire is threatening your area, listen to your radio for reports and evacuation information. Follow the instructions of local officials immediately. While you wait for the order to evacuate:

  • Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape. Shut the doors, but do not lock them, and roll up windows. Leave the key in the ignition or make sure it is in your pocket at all times. Close garage windows and doors, but leave them unlocked. Disconnect automatic garage door openers, just in case the electricity goes out.
  • Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape. Shut the doors, but do not lock them, and roll up windows. Leave the key in the ignition or make sure it is in your pocket at all times. Close garage windows and doors, but leave them unlocked. Disconnect automatic garage door openers, just in case the electricity goes out.
  • Gather pets into one room, making them easy to find when it is time to leave.
  • Evacuate large animals, such as horses, to a safe location.
  • Arrange temporary housing at a friend’s home outside the threatened area.
  • Notify your out-of-state emergency contact of your plans and give them the phone number and address of the place you will evacuate to.
  • Load your 72-hour kits and important family possessions in your car.
  • Place pet supplies and leashes in the car.
  • Place maps in the car with at least two evacuation routes clearly marked.
  • Change into protective clothing including long pants, long-sleeved shirt, heavy socks and sturdy shoes.
  • Have hand towels or bandanas ready for each member of the family.
  • Contact your neighbors to make sure they have heard the warnings.
  • Close all windows and vents.
  • Move flammable furniture into the center of the home away from windows and sliding-glass doors.
  • Move all flammable patio furniture indoors.
  • Turn on a light in each room and also your outdoor lights, to increase the visibility of your home in heavy smoke.

If Advised to Evacuate, Do It Immediately

  • Wet the towels or bandanas you have set aside and take them with you. Holding these over your nose will help you breath in a smoky environment.
  • Lock your home.
  • Call you neighbors as you are leaving. Warn them if you are aware of an escape route that is blocked.
  • Call family members who were staying at other homes to inform them where you are going.
  • Call your out of state contact to inform them you are heading for the safe location you have given them earlier.
  • When you have reached your destination, gather all your family members to that location.

Survival in a Vehicle

This is very dangerous and should only be done in an extreme emergency, but you can survive a firestorm if you stay in your car. Outrunning a firestorm on foot is almost always impossible.

  • Roll up windows and close air vents. Drive slowly with headlights on. Watch for other vehicles and pedestrians. Do not drive through heavy smoke.
  • If you are forced to stop, park away from trees and brush. Turn headlights on and ignition off. Roll up windows and close air vents.
  • Get on the floor and cover up with a blanket or coat.
  • Breathe through a cloth.
  • Stay in the vehicle until the main fire passes.
  • Stay in the car! Do not run! Be prepared for the temperature to dramatically increase and for air currents, caused by the fire, to rock the car. Gas tanks can explode but rarely do unless they are punctured.

If You Are Trapped at Home

Stay calm. As the fire front approaches, go inside the house. You can survive a fast-moving wildfire, but this should always be a last resort and never your first choice!

  • Close all windows and exterior doors
  • Close all interior doors.
  • Go to the center of the house.
  • Stuff towels or blankets under the door to help prevent smoke from entering the room.
  • Lie on the floor and cover up with a blanket. A wool blanket is best as it will take longer to ignite.
  • Breathe through a wet cloth

What to do After a Wildfire

  • Check the roof immediately. Put out any fires, sparks or embers.
  • Check the attic for hidden burning or smoldering sparks.
  • Put out any small remaining brush fires.
  • The water you put into your pool, hot tub, or water storage barrels can be siphoned to provide water if the electricity is off and your well isn’t working or if community water supplies are interrupted. You can also connect a hose to the outlet on your water heater for added water supply.
  • Rake any areas that appear to be smoldering and extinguish any embers you find.
  • Check the inside of your home for any embers that may have entered.
  • For several hours after the fire, maintain a fire watch by walking around your home inside and out, checking for any new hot spots.

It is so important to research the risk of wildfire in the area where you live. We have lived in our community for 20 years and have not seen a wildfire here, except for grass fires on neighboring farms that were quickly put out by our fire department. No headlines here.

But those who have lived in our town longer than we have remember a fire that swept through the river bottom areas that adjoin our town (less than a mile from our neighborhood), which created real fear and panic that it would spread to neighborhoods and burn the city.

So, even if there is not a recent memory of such events, that does not mean the danger is diminished, but may in fact mean the risk has quietly grown worse with years of new undergrowth in wilderness areas, while residential areas have encroached deeper into that wilderness.

The time to clear a fire break between our home and the path of a wildfire is now. Preparing home and family must also be done now, and not later. At its root, this takes spiritual as well intellectual commitment. As an American evangelist once said: “Heaven is a prepared place, for a prepared people.”

Like judgment day, a wildfire emergency offers no postponements, and no deferments. When smoke and flames approach, it is too late to do any more than implement the preparations we have already put in place, keep a cool head, and trust in the Lord.

Wildfires often burn unnoticed until the task of fighting them becomes overwhelming. They spread quickly, igniting brush, trees, outbuildings and homes. No household sprinkler system, fire extinguisher or garden hose is up to the task of containing a wildfire.

There are many things we can do right now to prepare for the upcoming fire season. Begin by learning as much as you can about the history of wildfire in your area. Local government websites are a great resource for this information. Be aware of weather that can add to the fire danger, such as

Santa Ana winds in southern California. A long period without rain, even if not officially a drought, increases the risk of wildfire as vegetation dries out and housing expands into forested areas.

Before Wildfire Threatens

  • Have a building professional inspect your property and offer recommendations for reducing the wildfire risk.
  • Have a landscaping professional inspect your property and make recommendations for reducing your risks.
  • Regularly clean roof and gutters.
  • Inspect and clean chimneys at least once a year. Make sure you inspect the damper and spark arrester as well.
  • Install half-inch mesh screen beneath porches, decks, floor areas and the home itself. Also, screen openings to floors, roof and attic.
  • Install a smoke/carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home, especially outside bedrooms. Test batteries monthly and change them once a year. Changing them on the same day each year will help you remember. Choose a day such as a birthday or holiday.
  • Purchase at least one good, large, fire extinguisher (ABC type)
  • Purchase or organize items that can be used as fire fighting tools: a rake, axe, handsaw or chainsaw, hose, bucket, shovel and bag of sand.
  • Enclose eaves and overhangs.
  • Cover house vents with fourth-inch, or smaller, wire mesh. Any attic vent, louver, attic fan, or other opening may allow embers and flaming debris to enter your home and ignite.
  • Use fire-resistant siding and roofing materials. If you currently have a shake roof or wood siding, replace it as soon as possible. Shake roofing and wood siding will allow your home to be engulfed in a very short time.
  • Choose safety glass for windows and sliding glass doors. Radiated heat passing through a windowpane can ignite combustible materials inside. Dual- or triple-pane thermal glass, fire resistant shutters, and drapes all help reduce the risk.
  • Consider installing protective shutters or heavy fire-resistant drapes.
  • Prepare for water storage. After a fire, water supplies may be limited. Create and maintain a small pond, well or pool and store extra water.
  • Install freeze-proof exterior water faucets on at least two sides of your home and near other structures on the property. If you cannot do this make sure you have the materials available to wrap and protect your pipes so in the event of a fire you don’t find yourself without water.
  • Consider purchasing a generator to provide power after the fire has passed. Electric service will probably be down for several days.
  • Make sure your house number is clearly visible from the road, making it easier for fire fighters to find your home quickly.
  • Purchase escape ladders for second floor bedrooms.
  • Make a list of the phone numbers, both landline and cell, for your neighbors. We have friends who were involved in the last

    • San Diego wildfire and they never received an evacuation warning, but they noticed the flames approaching and called their neighbors’ cell phones, and knocked on their doors as they were evacuating. Thanks to their efforts everyone on their block made it out safely.

    Create a Family Plan

    • Teach children about fire safety. Keep matches out of their reach.
    • Teach older children to use a fire extinguisher.
    • Teach your family to have a bucket of sand or water nearby when barbecuing, using tools or toys that create sparks, or when using fireworks.
    • Post fire emergency telephone numbers.
    • Plan several escape routes away from your home — by car and by foot — and practice them as a family.
    • Review with your family how officials will warn you if there is danger.
    • Create a plan in case you are not at home when the emergency arises, and your children need to evacuate.
    • Teach your family about the importance of keeping your property clean to help prevent fires.
    • Plan two exits from your home in case doors or windows are blocked by an exterior fire. Practice evacuating using both exits.
    • Practice evacuating your home in the middle of the night.
    • Plan how your family will stay in touch if you are separated by a wildfire. All family members should know the name and phone number for your out-of-state contact.
    • Choose a meeting place outside your neighborhood in case you can’t return home. Hold a drill to practice gathering at this location.
    • Post emergency telephone numbers by every phone and teach your children how and when to use them.

    Create a Neighborhood Plan

    Talk to your neighbors about what they are doing now to prepare for the fire season and how they might be able to respond to fire reports in the area. There may be things you can do together to prevent the spread of fire, and to survive if one occurs.

    • Gather and distribute a list of home and cell phone numbers for emergencies.
    • Decide on a channel to use on walkie-talkies to communicate during a crisis.
    • Identify potential fire hazards.
    • Determine which hazards can be corrected by working together.
    • Notify the proper authorities to correct the problem.
    • Identify roadways which are blocked or poorly marked. During a fire the line down the center of the road may be your only guide. If roads need attention notify the city or county authorities.
    • Create a plan for how the neighborhood could work together after a wildfire. Make a list of your neighbors’ skills, such as medical, construction or technical.
    • Consider how you could help neighbors who have special needs such as seniors or people with disabilities.
    • Make plans to take care of children who may be on their own if their parents can’t get home.
    • Make a list of neighbors with heavy equipment and other fire-fighting tools.
    • Develop a neighborhood plan for things that need to be done.
    • Develop a neighborhood phone tree.
    • Plan a neighborhood meeting with the fire department to have questions answered and to get advice.

    Create a Safety Zone around Your Home

    Design and landscape your home with wildfire safety in mind. All vegetation is fuel for a wildfire, though some trees and shrubs are more flammable than others. The greater the distance between your home and the vegetation, the greater your protection.

    You can take steps now to reduce the potential for disaster. Homes built in pine forests should have a minimum safety zone of 100 feet. Fire spreads very quickly uphill. Homes built on a steep slope therefore, will require additional protection. The steeper the slope, the more open space you will need to protect your home. All other homes should have a 30-foot safety zone around them.

    • Move shrubs and other landscaping away from the sides of the house.
    • Cut and water lawns often.
    • Prune branches and shrubs to allow for 15 feet between vegetation and chimneys and stove pipes.
    • Prune tree limbs 15 feet above the ground.
    • Prune tree limbs so they don’t overhang the roof.
    • Replace highly flammable vegetation such as pine, eucalyptus, junipers and firs with less flammable varieties. If in doubt, ask
    • Call your local fire department or landscape professional for suggestions.
    • Remove vines from the walls of your house, outbuildings and garden walls.
    • Remove all dead tree branches from the ground-level up (these act as ladder fuels for the approaching fire).
    • Clear the area of leaves, brush, and fallen limbs.
    • Remove debris from under sun decks and porches.
    • Replace wooden decks with non-combustible materials such as concrete, brick, rock, or man-made materials. Building a deck structure at ground level will eliminate the danger of a fire starting under a deck.
    • Use non-combustible patio furniture and covers.
    • Adding a brick or rock wall around your property will help prevent a grass fire from threatening your home.
    • Patios and pools are also great improvements in a 30-foot safety zone.
    • When possible, install electrical lines underground.
    • If you notice branches around power lines, ask the power company to clear them.
    • Avoid using bark and wood chip mulch.
    • Stack firewood 100 feet away and uphill from any structure.
    • Store combustible or flammable materials in approved safety containers away from your home.
    • Keep the gas grill and propane tank at least 15 feet from any structure. Clear an area 10 feet around the grill.
    • Clear at least a 10-foot area around propane tanks.
    • Dispose of newspapers. Do not allow them to stack up.
    • Place stove, fireplace and grill ashes in a metal bucket far from structures. Soak with water.
    • Have garden hoses that are long enough to reach any area of your home and other structures on your property.

    When Wildfire Threatens

    If you are warned that a wildfire is threatening your area, listen to your radio for reports and evacuation information. Follow the instructions of local officials immediately. While you wait for the order to evacuate:

    • Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape. Shut the doors, but do not lock them, and roll up windows. Leave the key in the ignition or make sure it is in your pocket at all times. Close garage windows and doors, but leave them unlocked. Disconnect automatic garage door openers, just in case the electricity goes out.
    • Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape. Shut the doors, but do not lock them, and roll up windows. Leave the key in the ignition or make sure it is in your pocket at all times. Close garage windows and doors, but leave them unlocked. Disconnect automatic garage door openers, just in case the electricity goes out.
    • Gather pets into one room, making them easy to find when it is time to leave.
    • Evacuate large animals, such as horses, to a safe location.
    • Arrange temporary housing at a friend’s home outside the threatened area.
    • Notify your out-of-state emergency contact of your plans and give them the phone number and address of the place you will evacuate to.
    • Load your 72-hour kits and important family possessions in your car.
    • Place pet supplies and leashes in the car.
    • Place maps in the car with at least two evacuation routes clearly marked.
    • Change into protective clothing including long pants, long-sleeved shirt, heavy socks and sturdy shoes.
    • Have hand towels or bandanas ready for each member of the family.
    • Contact your neighbors to make sure they have heard the warnings.
    • Close all windows and vents.
    • Move flammable furniture into the center of the home away from windows and sliding-glass doors.
    • Move all flammable patio furniture indoors.
    • Turn on a light in each room and also your outdoor lights, to increase the visibility of your home in heavy smoke.

    If Advised to Evacuate, Do It Immediately

    • Wet the towels or bandanas you have set aside and take them with you. Holding these over your nose will help you breath in a smoky environment.
    • Lock your home.
    • Call you neighbors as you are leaving. Warn them if you are aware of an escape route that is blocked.
    • Call family members who were staying at other homes to inform them where you are going.
    • Call your out of state contact to inform them you are heading for the safe location you have given them earlier.
    • When you have reached your destination, gather all your family members to that location.

    Survival in a Vehicle

    This is very dangerous and should only be done in an extreme emergency, but you can survive a firestorm if you stay in your car. Outrunning a firestorm on foot is almost always impossible.

    • Roll up windows and close air vents. Drive slowly with headlights on. Watch for other vehicles and pedestrians. Do not drive through heavy smoke.
    • If you are forced to stop, park away from trees and brush. Turn headlights on and ignition off. Roll up windows and close air vents.
    • Get on the floor and cover up with a blanket or coat.
    • Breathe through a cloth.
    • Stay in the vehicle until the main fire passes.
    • Stay in the car! Do not run! Be prepared for the temperature to dramatically increase and for air currents, caused by the fire, to rock the car. Gas tanks can explode but rarely do unless they are punctured.

    If You Are Trapped at Home

    Stay calm. As the fire front approaches, go inside the house. You can survive a fast-moving wildfire, but this should always be a last resort and never your first choice!

    • Close all windows and exterior doors
    • Close all interior doors.
    • Go to the center of the house.
    • Stuff towels or blankets under the door to help prevent smoke from entering the room.
    • Lie on the floor and cover up with a blanket. A wool blanket is best as it will take longer to ignite.
    • Breathe through a wet cloth

    What to do After a Wildfire

    • Check the roof immediately. Put out any fires, sparks or embers.
    • Check the attic for hidden burning or smoldering sparks.
    • Put out any small remaining brush fires.
    • The water you put into your pool, hot tub, or water storage barrels can be siphoned to provide water if the electricity is off and your well isn’t working or if community water supplies are interrupted. You can also connect a hose to the outlet on your water heater for added water supply.
    • Rake any areas that appear to be smoldering and extinguish any embers you find.
    • Check the inside of your home for any embers that may have entered.
    • For several hours after the fire, maintain a fire watch by walking around your home inside and out, checking for any new hot spots.

    It is so important to research the risk of wildfire in the area where you live. We have lived in our community for 20 years and have not seen a wildfire here, except for grass fires on neighboring farms that were quickly put out by our fire department. No headlines here.

    But those who have lived in our town longer than we have remember a fire that swept through the river bottom areas that adjoin our town (less than a mile from our neighborhood), which created real fear and panic that it would spread to neighborhoods and burn the city.

    So, even if there is not a recent memory of such events, that does not mean the danger is diminished, but may in fact mean the risk has quietly grown worse with years of new undergrowth in wilderness areas, while residential areas have encroached deeper into that wilderness.

    The time to clear a fire break between our home and the path of a wildfire is now. Preparing home and family must also be done now, and not later. At its root, this takes spiritual as well intellectual commitment. As an American evangelist once said: “Heaven is a prepared place, for a prepared people.”

    Like judgment day, a wildfire emergency offers no postponements, and no deferments. When smoke and flames approach, it is too late to do any more than implement the preparations we have already put in place, keep a cool head, and trust in the Lord.

Create a Family Plan

  • Teach children about fire safety. Keep matches out of their reach.
  • Teach older children to use a fire extinguisher.
  • Teach your family to have a bucket of sand or water nearby when barbecuing, using tools or toys that create sparks, or when using fireworks.
  • Post fire emergency telephone numbers.
  • Plan several escape routes away from your home — by car and by foot — and practice them as a family.
  • Review with your family how officials will warn you if there is danger.
  • Create a plan in case you are not at home when the emergency arises, and your children need to evacuate.
  • Teach your family about the importance of keeping your property clean to help prevent fires.
  • Plan two exits from your home in case doors or windows are blocked by an exterior fire. Practice evacuating using both exits.
  • Practice evacuating your home in the middle of the night.
  • Plan how your family will stay in touch if you are separated by a wildfire. All family members should know the name and phone number for your out-of-state contact.
  • Choose a meeting place outside your neighborhood in case you can’t return home. Hold a drill to practice gathering at this location.
  • Post emergency telephone numbers by every phone and teach your children how and when to use them.

Create a Neighborhood Plan

Talk to your neighbors about what they are doing now to prepare for the fire season and how they might be able to respond to fire reports in the area. There may be things you can do together to prevent the spread of fire, and to survive if one occurs.

  • Gather and distribute a list of home and cell phone numbers for emergencies.
  • Decide on a channel to use on walkie-talkies to communicate during a crisis.
  • Identify potential fire hazards.
  • Determine which hazards can be corrected by working together.
  • Notify the proper authorities to correct the problem.
  • Identify roadways which are blocked or poorly marked. During a fire the line down the center of the road may be your only guide. If roads need attention notify the city or county authorities.
  • Create a plan for how the neighborhood could work together after a wildfire. Make a list of your neighbors’ skills, such as medical, construction or technical.
  • Consider how you could help neighbors who have special needs such as seniors or people with disabilities.
  • Make plans to take care of children who may be on their own if their parents can’t get home.
  • Make a list of neighbors with heavy equipment and other fire-fighting tools.
  • Develop a neighborhood plan for things that need to be done.
  • Develop a neighborhood phone tree.
  • Plan a neighborhood meeting with the fire department to have questions answered and to get advice.

Create a Safety Zone around Your Home

Design and landscape your home with wildfire safety in mind. All vegetation is fuel for a wildfire, though some trees and shrubs are more flammable than others. The greater the distance between your home and the vegetation, the greater your protection.

You can take steps now to reduce the potential for disaster. Homes built in pine forests should have a minimum safety zone of 100 feet. Fire spreads very quickly uphill. Homes built on a steep slope therefore, will require additional protection. The steeper the slope, the more open space you will need to protect your home. All other homes should have a 30-foot safety zone around them.

  • Move shrubs and other landscaping away from the sides of the house.
  • Cut and water lawns often.
  • Prune branches and shrubs to allow for 15 feet between vegetation and chimneys and stove pipes.
  • Prune tree limbs 15 feet above the ground.
  • Prune tree limbs so they don’t overhang the roof.
  • Replace highly flammable vegetation such as pine, eucalyptus, junipers and firs with less flammable varieties. If in doubt, ask
  • Call your local fire department or landscape professional for suggestions.
  • Remove vines from the walls of your house, outbuildings and garden walls.
  • Remove all dead tree branches from the ground-level up (these act as ladder fuels for the approaching fire).
  • Clear the area of leaves, brush, and fallen limbs.
  • Remove debris from under sun decks and porches.
  • Replace wooden decks with non-combustible materials such as concrete, brick, rock, or man-made materials. Building a deck structure at ground level will eliminate the danger of a fire starting under a deck.
  • Use non-combustible patio furniture and covers.
  • Adding a brick or rock wall around your property will help prevent a grass fire from threatening your home.
  • Patios and pools are also great improvements in a 30-foot safety zone.
  • When possible, install electrical lines underground.
  • If you notice branches around power lines, ask the power company to clear them.
  • Avoid using bark and wood chip mulch.
  • Stack firewood 100 feet away and uphill from any structure.
  • Store combustible or flammable materials in approved safety containers away from your home.
  • Keep the gas grill and propane tank at least 15 feet from any structure. Clear an area 10 feet around the grill.
  • Clear at least a 10-foot area around propane tanks.
  • Dispose of newspapers. Do not allow them to stack up.
  • Place stove, fireplace and grill ashes in a metal bucket far from structures. Soak with water.
  • Have garden hoses that are long enough to reach any area of your home and other structures on your property.

When Wildfire Threatens

If you are warned that a wildfire is threatening your area, listen to your radio for reports and evacuation information. Follow the instructions of local officials immediately. While you wait for the order to evacuate:

  • Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape. Shut the doors, but do not lock them, and roll up windows. Leave the key in the ignition or make sure it is in your pocket at all times. Close garage windows and doors, but leave them unlocked. Disconnect automatic garage door openers, just in case the electricity goes out.
  • Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape. Shut the doors, but do not lock them, and roll up windows. Leave the key in the ignition or make sure it is in your pocket at all times. Close garage windows and doors, but leave them unlocked. Disconnect automatic garage door openers, just in case the electricity goes out.
  • Gather pets into one room, making them easy to find when it is time to leave.
  • Evacuate large animals, such as horses, to a safe location.
  • Arrange temporary housing at a friend’s home outside the threatened area.
  • Notify your out-of-state emergency contact of your plans and give them the phone number and address of the place you will evacuate to.
  • Load your 72-hour kits and important family possessions in your car.
  • Place pet supplies and leashes in the car.
  • Place maps in the car with at least two evacuation routes clearly marked.
  • Change into protective clothing including long pants, long-sleeved shirt, heavy socks and sturdy shoes.
  • Have hand towels or bandanas ready for each member of the family.
  • Contact your neighbors to make sure they have heard the warnings.
  • Close all windows and vents.
  • Move flammable furniture into the center of the home away from windows and sliding-glass doors.
  • Move all flammable patio furniture indoors.
  • Turn on a light in each room and also your outdoor lights, to increase the visibility of your home in heavy smoke.

If Advised to Evacuate, Do It Immediately

  • Wet the towels or bandanas you have set aside and take them with you. Holding these over your nose will help you breath in a smoky environment.
  • Lock your home.
  • Call you neighbors as you are leaving. Warn them if you are aware of an escape route that is blocked.
  • Call family members who were staying at other homes to inform them where you are going.
  • Call your out of state contact to inform them you are heading for the safe location you have given them earlier.
  • When you have reached your destination, gather all your family members to that location.

Survival in a Vehicle

This is very dangerous and should only be done in an extreme emergency, but you can survive a firestorm if you stay in your car. Outrunning a firestorm on foot is almost always impossible.

  • Roll up windows and close air vents. Drive slowly with headlights on. Watch for other vehicles and pedestrians. Do not drive through heavy smoke.
  • If you are forced to stop, park away from trees and brush. Turn headlights on and ignition off. Roll up windows and close air vents.
  • Get on the floor and cover up with a blanket or coat.
  • Breathe through a cloth.
  • Stay in the vehicle until the main fire passes.
  • Stay in the car! Do not run! Be prepared for the temperature to dramatically increase and for air currents, caused by the fire, to rock the car. Gas tanks can explode but rarely do unless they are punctured.

If You Are Trapped at Home

Stay calm. As the fire front approaches, go inside the house. You can survive a fast-moving wildfire, but this should always be a last resort and never your first choice!

  • Close all windows and exterior doors
  • Close all interior doors.
  • Go to the center of the house.
  • Stuff towels or blankets under the door to help prevent smoke from entering the room.
  • Lie on the floor and cover up with a blanket. A wool blanket is best as it will take longer to ignite.
  • Breathe through a wet cloth

What to do After a Wildfire

  • Check the roof immediately. Put out any fires, sparks or embers.
  • Check the attic for hidden burning or smoldering sparks.
  • Put out any small remaining brush fires.
  • The water you put into your pool, hot tub, or water storage barrels can be siphoned to provide water if the electricity is off and your well isn’t working or if community water supplies are interrupted. You can also connect a hose to the outlet on your water heater for added water supply.
  • Rake any areas that appear to be smoldering and extinguish any embers you find.
  • Check the inside of your home for any embers that may have entered.
  • For several hours after the fire, maintain a fire watch by walking around your home inside and out, checking for any new hot spots.

It is so important to research the risk of wildfire in the area where you live. We have lived in our community for 20 years and have not seen a wildfire here, except for grass fires on neighboring farms that were quickly put out by our fire department. No headlines here.

But those who have lived in our town longer than we have remember a fire that swept through the river bottom areas that adjoin our town (less than a mile from our neighborhood), which created real fear and panic that it would spread to neighborhoods and burn the city.

So, even if there is not a recent memory of such events, that does not mean the danger is diminished, but may in fact mean the risk has quietly grown worse with years of new undergrowth in wilderness areas, while residential areas have encroached deeper into that wilderness.

The time to clear a fire break between our home and the path of a wildfire is now. Preparing home and family must also be done now, and not later. At its root, this takes spiritual as well intellectual commitment. As an American evangelist once said: “Heaven is a prepared place, for a prepared people.”

Like judgment day, a wildfire emergency offers no postponements, and no deferments. When smoke and flames approach, it is too late to do any more than implement the preparations we have already put in place, keep a cool head, and trust in the Lord.

Before Wildfire Threatens

  • Have a building professional inspect your property and offer recommendations for reducing the wildfire risk.
  • Have a landscaping professional inspect your property and make recommendations for reducing your risks.
  • Regularly clean roof and gutters.
  • Inspect and clean chimneys at least once a year. Make sure you inspect the damper and spark arrester as well.
  • Install half-inch mesh screen beneath porches, decks, floor areas and the home itself. Also, screen openings to floors, roof and attic.
  • Install a smoke/carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home, especially outside bedrooms. Test batteries monthly and change them once a year. Changing them on the same day each year will help you remember. Choose a day such as a birthday or holiday.
  • Purchase at least one good, large, fire extinguisher (ABC type)
  • Purchase or organize items that can be used as fire fighting tools: a rake, axe, handsaw or chainsaw, hose, bucket, shovel and bag of sand.
  • Enclose eaves and overhangs.
  • Cover house vents with fourth-inch, or smaller, wire mesh. Any attic vent, louver, attic fan, or other opening may allow embers and flaming debris to enter your home and ignite.
  • Use fire-resistant siding and roofing materials. If you currently have a shake roof or wood siding, replace it as soon as possible. Shake roofing and wood siding will allow your home to be engulfed in a very short time.
  • Choose safety glass for windows and sliding glass doors. Radiated heat passing through a windowpane can ignite combustible materials inside. Dual- or triple-pane thermal glass, fire resistant shutters, and drapes all help reduce the risk.
  • Consider installing protective shutters or heavy fire-resistant drapes.
  • Prepare for water storage. After a fire, water supplies may be limited. Create and maintain a small pond, well or pool and store extra water.
  • Install freeze-proof exterior water faucets on at least two sides of your home and near other structures on the property. If you cannot do this make sure you have the materials available to wrap and protect your pipes so in the event of a fire you don’t find yourself without water.
  • Consider purchasing a generator to provide power after the fire has passed. Electric service will probably be down for several days.
  • Make sure your house number is clearly visible from the road, making it easier for fire fighters to find your home quickly.
  • Purchase escape ladders for second floor bedrooms.
  • Make a list of the phone numbers, both landline and cell, for your neighbors. We have friends who were involved in the last

    • San Diego wildfire and they never received an evacuation warning, but they noticed the flames approaching and called their neighbors’ cell phones, and knocked on their doors as they were evacuating. Thanks to their efforts everyone on their block made it out safely.

    Create a Family Plan

    • Teach children about fire safety. Keep matches out of their reach.
    • Teach older children to use a fire extinguisher.
    • Teach your family to have a bucket of sand or water nearby when barbecuing, using tools or toys that create sparks, or when using fireworks.
    • Post fire emergency telephone numbers.
    • Plan several escape routes away from your home — by car and by foot — and practice them as a family.
    • Review with your family how officials will warn you if there is danger.
    • Create a plan in case you are not at home when the emergency arises, and your children need to evacuate.
    • Teach your family about the importance of keeping your property clean to help prevent fires.
    • Plan two exits from your home in case doors or windows are blocked by an exterior fire. Practice evacuating using both exits.
    • Practice evacuating your home in the middle of the night.
    • Plan how your family will stay in touch if you are separated by a wildfire. All family members should know the name and phone number for your out-of-state contact.
    • Choose a meeting place outside your neighborhood in case you can’t return home. Hold a drill to practice gathering at this location.
    • Post emergency telephone numbers by every phone and teach your children how and when to use them.

    Create a Neighborhood Plan

    Talk to your neighbors about what they are doing now to prepare for the fire season and how they might be able to respond to fire reports in the area. There may be things you can do together to prevent the spread of fire, and to survive if one occurs.

    • Gather and distribute a list of home and cell phone numbers for emergencies.
    • Decide on a channel to use on walkie-talkies to communicate during a crisis.
    • Identify potential fire hazards.
    • Determine which hazards can be corrected by working together.
    • Notify the proper authorities to correct the problem.
    • Identify roadways which are blocked or poorly marked. During a fire the line down the center of the road may be your only guide. If roads need attention notify the city or county authorities.
    • Create a plan for how the neighborhood could work together after a wildfire. Make a list of your neighbors’ skills, such as medical, construction or technical.
    • Consider how you could help neighbors who have special needs such as seniors or people with disabilities.
    • Make plans to take care of children who may be on their own if their parents can’t get home.
    • Make a list of neighbors with heavy equipment and other fire-fighting tools.
    • Develop a neighborhood plan for things that need to be done.
    • Develop a neighborhood phone tree.
    • Plan a neighborhood meeting with the fire department to have questions answered and to get advice.

    Create a Safety Zone around Your Home

    Design and landscape your home with wildfire safety in mind. All vegetation is fuel for a wildfire, though some trees and shrubs are more flammable than others. The greater the distance between your home and the vegetation, the greater your protection.

    You can take steps now to reduce the potential for disaster. Homes built in pine forests should have a minimum safety zone of 100 feet. Fire spreads very quickly uphill. Homes built on a steep slope therefore, will require additional protection. The steeper the slope, the more open space you will need to protect your home. All other homes should have a 30-foot safety zone around them.

    • Move shrubs and other landscaping away from the sides of the house.
    • Cut and water lawns often.
    • Prune branches and shrubs to allow for 15 feet between vegetation and chimneys and stove pipes.
    • Prune tree limbs 15 feet above the ground.
    • Prune tree limbs so they don’t overhang the roof.
    • Replace highly flammable vegetation such as pine, eucalyptus, junipers and firs with less flammable varieties. If in doubt, ask
    • Call your local fire department or landscape professional for suggestions.
    • Remove vines from the walls of your house, outbuildings and garden walls.
    • Remove all dead tree branches from the ground-level up (these act as ladder fuels for the approaching fire).
    • Clear the area of leaves, brush, and fallen limbs.
    • Remove debris from under sun decks and porches.
    • Replace wooden decks with non-combustible materials such as concrete, brick, rock, or man-made materials. Building a deck structure at ground level will eliminate the danger of a fire starting under a deck.
    • Use non-combustible patio furniture and covers.
    • Adding a brick or rock wall around your property will help prevent a grass fire from threatening your home.
    • Patios and pools are also great improvements in a 30-foot safety zone.
    • When possible, install electrical lines underground.
    • If you notice branches around power lines, ask the power company to clear them.
    • Avoid using bark and wood chip mulch.
    • Stack firewood 100 feet away and uphill from any structure.
    • Store combustible or flammable materials in approved safety containers away from your home.
    • Keep the gas grill and propane tank at least 15 feet from any structure. Clear an area 10 feet around the grill.
    • Clear at least a 10-foot area around propane tanks.
    • Dispose of newspapers. Do not allow them to stack up.
    • Place stove, fireplace and grill ashes in a metal bucket far from structures. Soak with water.
    • Have garden hoses that are long enough to reach any area of your home and other structures on your property.

    When Wildfire Threatens

    If you are warned that a wildfire is threatening your area, listen to your radio for reports and evacuation information. Follow the instructions of local officials immediately. While you wait for the order to evacuate:

    • Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape. Shut the doors, but do not lock them, and roll up windows. Leave the key in the ignition or make sure it is in your pocket at all times. Close garage windows and doors, but leave them unlocked. Disconnect automatic garage door openers, just in case the electricity goes out.
    • Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape. Shut the doors, but do not lock them, and roll up windows. Leave the key in the ignition or make sure it is in your pocket at all times. Close garage windows and doors, but leave them unlocked. Disconnect automatic garage door openers, just in case the electricity goes out.
    • Gather pets into one room, making them easy to find when it is time to leave.
    • Evacuate large animals, such as horses, to a safe location.
    • Arrange temporary housing at a friend’s home outside the threatened area.
    • Notify your out-of-state emergency contact of your plans and give them the phone number and address of the place you will evacuate to.
    • Load your 72-hour kits and important family possessions in your car.
    • Place pet supplies and leashes in the car.
    • Place maps in the car with at least two evacuation routes clearly marked.
    • Change into protective clothing including long pants, long-sleeved shirt, heavy socks and sturdy shoes.
    • Have hand towels or bandanas ready for each member of the family.
    • Contact your neighbors to make sure they have heard the warnings.
    • Close all windows and vents.
    • Move flammable furniture into the center of the home away from windows and sliding-glass doors.
    • Move all flammable patio furniture indoors.
    • Turn on a light in each room and also your outdoor lights, to increase the visibility of your home in heavy smoke.

    If Advised to Evacuate, Do It Immediately

    • Wet the towels or bandanas you have set aside and take them with you. Holding these over your nose will help you breath in a smoky environment.
    • Lock your home.
    • Call you neighbors as you are leaving. Warn them if you are aware of an escape route that is blocked.
    • Call family members who were staying at other homes to inform them where you are going.
    • Call your out of state contact to inform them you are heading for the safe location you have given them earlier.
    • When you have reached your destination, gather all your family members to that location.

    Survival in a Vehicle

    This is very dangerous and should only be done in an extreme emergency, but you can survive a firestorm if you stay in your car. Outrunning a firestorm on foot is almost always impossible.

    • Roll up windows and close air vents. Drive slowly with headlights on. Watch for other vehicles and pedestrians. Do not drive through heavy smoke.
    • If you are forced to stop, park away from trees and brush. Turn headlights on and ignition off. Roll up windows and close air vents.
    • Get on the floor and cover up with a blanket or coat.
    • Breathe through a cloth.
    • Stay in the vehicle until the main fire passes.
    • Stay in the car! Do not run! Be prepared for the temperature to dramatically increase and for air currents, caused by the fire, to rock the car. Gas tanks can explode but rarely do unless they are punctured.

    If You Are Trapped at Home

    Stay calm. As the fire front approaches, go inside the house. You can survive a fast-moving wildfire, but this should always be a last resort and never your first choice!

    • Close all windows and exterior doors
    • Close all interior doors.
    • Go to the center of the house.
    • Stuff towels or blankets under the door to help prevent smoke from entering the room.
    • Lie on the floor and cover up with a blanket. A wool blanket is best as it will take longer to ignite.
    • Breathe through a wet cloth

    What to do After a Wildfire

    • Check the roof immediately. Put out any fires, sparks or embers.
    • Check the attic for hidden burning or smoldering sparks.
    • Put out any small remaining brush fires.
    • The water you put into your pool, hot tub, or water storage barrels can be siphoned to provide water if the electricity is off and your well isn’t working or if community water supplies are interrupted. You can also connect a hose to the outlet on your water heater for added water supply.
    • Rake any areas that appear to be smoldering and extinguish any embers you find.
    • Check the inside of your home for any embers that may have entered.
    • For several hours after the fire, maintain a fire watch by walking around your home inside and out, checking for any new hot spots.

    It is so important to research the risk of wildfire in the area where you live. We have lived in our community for 20 years and have not seen a wildfire here, except for grass fires on neighboring farms that were quickly put out by our fire department. No headlines here.

    But those who have lived in our town longer than we have remember a fire that swept through the river bottom areas that adjoin our town (less than a mile from our neighborhood), which created real fear and panic that it would spread to neighborhoods and burn the city.

    So, even if there is not a recent memory of such events, that does not mean the danger is diminished, but may in fact mean the risk has quietly grown worse with years of new undergrowth in wilderness areas, while residential areas have encroached deeper into that wilderness.

    The time to clear a fire break between our home and the path of a wildfire is now. Preparing home and family must also be done now, and not later. At its root, this takes spiritual as well intellectual commitment. As an American evangelist once said: “Heaven is a prepared place, for a prepared people.”

    Like judgment day, a wildfire emergency offers no postponements, and no deferments. When smoke and flames approach, it is too late to do any more than implement the preparations we have already put in place, keep a cool head, and trust in the Lord.

Create a Family Plan

  • Teach children about fire safety. Keep matches out of their reach.
  • Teach older children to use a fire extinguisher.
  • Teach your family to have a bucket of sand or water nearby when barbecuing, using tools or toys that create sparks, or when using fireworks.
  • Post fire emergency telephone numbers.
  • Plan several escape routes away from your home — by car and by foot — and practice them as a family.
  • Review with your family how officials will warn you if there is danger.
  • Create a plan in case you are not at home when the emergency arises, and your children need to evacuate.
  • Teach your family about the importance of keeping your property clean to help prevent fires.
  • Plan two exits from your home in case doors or windows are blocked by an exterior fire. Practice evacuating using both exits.
  • Practice evacuating your home in the middle of the night.
  • Plan how your family will stay in touch if you are separated by a wildfire. All family members should know the name and phone number for your out-of-state contact.
  • Choose a meeting place outside your neighborhood in case you can’t return home. Hold a drill to practice gathering at this location.
  • Post emergency telephone numbers by every phone and teach your children how and when to use them.

Create a Neighborhood Plan

Talk to your neighbors about what they are doing now to prepare for the fire season and how they might be able to respond to fire reports in the area. There may be things you can do together to prevent the spread of fire, and to survive if one occurs.

  • Gather and distribute a list of home and cell phone numbers for emergencies.
  • Decide on a channel to use on walkie-talkies to communicate during a crisis.
  • Identify potential fire hazards.
  • Determine which hazards can be corrected by working together.
  • Notify the proper authorities to correct the problem.
  • Identify roadways which are blocked or poorly marked. During a fire the line down the center of the road may be your only guide. If roads need attention notify the city or county authorities.
  • Create a plan for how the neighborhood could work together after a wildfire. Make a list of your neighbors’ skills, such as medical, construction or technical.
  • Consider how you could help neighbors who have special needs such as seniors or people with disabilities.
  • Make plans to take care of children who may be on their own if their parents can’t get home.
  • Make a list of neighbors with heavy equipment and other fire-fighting tools.
  • Develop a neighborhood plan for things that need to be done.
  • Develop a neighborhood phone tree.
  • Plan a neighborhood meeting with the fire department to have questions answered and to get advice.

Create a Safety Zone around Your Home

Design and landscape your home with wildfire safety in mind. All vegetation is fuel for a wildfire, though some trees and shrubs are more flammable than others. The greater the distance between your home and the vegetation, the greater your protection.

You can take steps now to reduce the potential for disaster. Homes built in pine forests should have a minimum safety zone of 100 feet. Fire spreads very quickly uphill. Homes built on a steep slope therefore, will require additional protection. The steeper the slope, the more open space you will need to protect your home. All other homes should have a 30-foot safety zone around them.

  • Move shrubs and other landscaping away from the sides of the house.
  • Cut and water lawns often.
  • Prune branches and shrubs to allow for 15 feet between vegetation and chimneys and stove pipes.
  • Prune tree limbs 15 feet above the ground.
  • Prune tree limbs so they don’t overhang the roof.
  • Replace highly flammable vegetation such as pine, eucalyptus, junipers and firs with less flammable varieties. If in doubt, ask
  • Call your local fire department or landscape professional for suggestions.
  • Remove vines from the walls of your house, outbuildings and garden walls.
  • Remove all dead tree branches from the ground-level up (these act as ladder fuels for the approaching fire).
  • Clear the area of leaves, brush, and fallen limbs.
  • Remove debris from under sun decks and porches.
  • Replace wooden decks with non-combustible materials such as concrete, brick, rock, or man-made materials. Building a deck structure at ground level will eliminate the danger of a fire starting under a deck.
  • Use non-combustible patio furniture and covers.
  • Adding a brick or rock wall around your property will help prevent a grass fire from threatening your home.
  • Patios and pools are also great improvements in a 30-foot safety zone.
  • When possible, install electrical lines underground.
  • If you notice branches around power lines, ask the power company to clear them.
  • Avoid using bark and wood chip mulch.
  • Stack firewood 100 feet away and uphill from any structure.
  • Store combustible or flammable materials in approved safety containers away from your home.
  • Keep the gas grill and propane tank at least 15 feet from any structure. Clear an area 10 feet around the grill.
  • Clear at least a 10-foot area around propane tanks.
  • Dispose of newspapers. Do not allow them to stack up.
  • Place stove, fireplace and grill ashes in a metal bucket far from structures. Soak with water.
  • Have garden hoses that are long enough to reach any area of your home and other structures on your property.

When Wildfire Threatens

If you are warned that a wildfire is threatening your area, listen to your radio for reports and evacuation information. Follow the instructions of local officials immediately. While you wait for the order to evacuate:

  • Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape. Shut the doors, but do not lock them, and roll up windows. Leave the key in the ignition or make sure it is in your pocket at all times. Close garage windows and doors, but leave them unlocked. Disconnect automatic garage door openers, just in case the electricity goes out.
  • Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape. Shut the doors, but do not lock them, and roll up windows. Leave the key in the ignition or make sure it is in your pocket at all times. Close garage windows and doors, but leave them unlocked. Disconnect automatic garage door openers, just in case the electricity goes out.
  • Gather pets into one room, making them easy to find when it is time to leave.
  • Evacuate large animals, such as horses, to a safe location.
  • Arrange temporary housing at a friend’s home outside the threatened area.
  • Notify your out-of-state emergency contact of your plans and give them the phone number and address of the place you will evacuate to.
  • Load your 72-hour kits and important family possessions in your car.
  • Place pet supplies and leashes in the car.
  • Place maps in the car with at least two evacuation routes clearly marked.
  • Change into protective clothing including long pants, long-sleeved shirt, heavy socks and sturdy shoes.
  • Have hand towels or bandanas ready for each member of the family.
  • Contact your neighbors to make sure they have heard the warnings.
  • Close all windows and vents.
  • Move flammable furniture into the center of the home away from windows and sliding-glass doors.
  • Move all flammable patio furniture indoors.
  • Turn on a light in each room and also your outdoor lights, to increase the visibility of your home in heavy smoke.

If Advised to Evacuate, Do It Immediately

  • Wet the towels or bandanas you have set aside and take them with you. Holding these over your nose will help you breath in a smoky environment.
  • Lock your home.
  • Call you neighbors as you are leaving. Warn them if you are aware of an escape route that is blocked.
  • Call family members who were staying at other homes to inform them where you are going.
  • Call your out of state contact to inform them you are heading for the safe location you have given them earlier.
  • When you have reached your destination, gather all your family members to that location.

Survival in a Vehicle

This is very dangerous and should only be done in an extreme emergency, but you can survive a firestorm if you stay in your car. Outrunning a firestorm on foot is almost always impossible.

  • Roll up windows and close air vents. Drive slowly with headlights on. Watch for other vehicles and pedestrians. Do not drive through heavy smoke.
  • If you are forced to stop, park away from trees and brush. Turn headlights on and ignition off. Roll up windows and close air vents.
  • Get on the floor and cover up with a blanket or coat.
  • Breathe through a cloth.
  • Stay in the vehicle until the main fire passes.
  • Stay in the car! Do not run! Be prepared for the temperature to dramatically increase and for air currents, caused by the fire, to rock the car. Gas tanks can explode but rarely do unless they are punctured.

If You Are Trapped at Home

Stay calm. As the fire front approaches, go inside the house. You can survive a fast-moving wildfire, but this should always be a last resort and never your first choice!

  • Close all windows and exterior doors
  • Close all interior doors.
  • Go to the center of the house.
  • Stuff towels or blankets under the door to help prevent smoke from entering the room.
  • Lie on the floor and cover up with a blanket. A wool blanket is best as it will take longer to ignite.
  • Breathe through a wet cloth

What to do After a Wildfire

  • Check the roof immediately. Put out any fires, sparks or embers.
  • Check the attic for hidden burning or smoldering sparks.
  • Put out any small remaining brush fires.
  • The water you put into your pool, hot tub, or water storage barrels can be siphoned to provide water if the electricity is off and your well isn’t working or if community water supplies are interrupted. You can also connect a hose to the outlet on your water heater for added water supply.
  • Rake any areas that appear to be smoldering and extinguish any embers you find.
  • Check the inside of your home for any embers that may have entered.
  • For several hours after the fire, maintain a fire watch by walking around your home inside and out, checking for any new hot spots.

It is so important to research the risk of wildfire in the area where you live. We have lived in our community for 20 years and have not seen a wildfire here, except for grass fires on neighboring farms that were quickly put out by our fire department. No headlines here.

But those who have lived in our town longer than we have remember a fire that swept through the river bottom areas that adjoin our town (less than a mile from our neighborhood), which created real fear and panic that it would spread to neighborhoods and burn the city.

So, even if there is not a recent memory of such events, that does not mean the danger is diminished, but may in fact mean the risk has quietly grown worse with years of new undergrowth in wilderness areas, while residential areas have encroached deeper into that wilderness.

The time to clear a fire break between our home and the path of a wildfire is now. Preparing home and family must also be done now, and not later. At its root, this takes spiritual as well intellectual commitment. As an American evangelist once said: “Heaven is a prepared place, for a prepared people.”

Like judgment day, a wildfire emergency offers no postponements, and no deferments. When smoke and flames approach, it is too late to do any more than implement the preparations we have already put in place, keep a cool head, and trust in the Lord.

In the fall of 2003, a wildfire in

San Diego County developed into the most costly fire disaster in California history. Before it was contained it killed 16 people and destroyed 2,427 homes and businesses. Experts say many San Diego neighborhoods, including Scripps Ranch, are fire traps. They predict that if Santa Ana Winds are present the day a fire begins, the fire will be unstoppable and go out only when it reaches the Pacific Ocean. Experts predict the same fate awaits residents of West Austin, Texas — which they estimate may take only eight hours to burn in a worst case scenario.

Wildfires often burn unnoticed until the task of fighting them becomes overwhelming. They spread quickly, igniting brush, trees, outbuildings and homes. No household sprinkler system, fire extinguisher or garden hose is up to the task of containing a wildfire.

There are many things we can do right now to prepare for the upcoming fire season. Begin by learning as much as you can about the history of wildfire in your area. Local government websites are a great resource for this information. Be aware of weather that can add to the fire danger, such as

Santa Ana winds in southern California. A long period without rain, even if not officially a drought, increases the risk of wildfire as vegetation dries out and housing expands into forested areas.

Before Wildfire Threatens

  • Have a building professional inspect your property and offer recommendations for reducing the wildfire risk.
  • Have a landscaping professional inspect your property and make recommendations for reducing your risks.
  • Regularly clean roof and gutters.
  • Inspect and clean chimneys at least once a year. Make sure you inspect the damper and spark arrester as well.
  • Install half-inch mesh screen beneath porches, decks, floor areas and the home itself. Also, screen openings to floors, roof and attic.
  • Install a smoke/carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home, especially outside bedrooms. Test batteries monthly and change them once a year. Changing them on the same day each year will help you remember. Choose a day such as a birthday or holiday.
  • Purchase at least one good, large, fire extinguisher (ABC type)
  • Purchase or organize items that can be used as fire fighting tools: a rake, axe, handsaw or chainsaw, hose, bucket, shovel and bag of sand.
  • Enclose eaves and overhangs.
  • Cover house vents with fourth-inch, or smaller, wire mesh. Any attic vent, louver, attic fan, or other opening may allow embers and flaming debris to enter your home and ignite.
  • Use fire-resistant siding and roofing materials. If you currently have a shake roof or wood siding, replace it as soon as possible. Shake roofing and wood siding will allow your home to be engulfed in a very short time.
  • Choose safety glass for windows and sliding glass doors. Radiated heat passing through a windowpane can ignite combustible materials inside. Dual- or triple-pane thermal glass, fire resistant shutters, and drapes all help reduce the risk.
  • Consider installing protective shutters or heavy fire-resistant drapes.
  • Prepare for water storage. After a fire, water supplies may be limited. Create and maintain a small pond, well or pool and store extra water.
  • Install freeze-proof exterior water faucets on at least two sides of your home and near other structures on the property. If you cannot do this make sure you have the materials available to wrap and protect your pipes so in the event of a fire you don’t find yourself without water.
  • Consider purchasing a generator to provide power after the fire has passed. Electric service will probably be down for several days.
  • Make sure your house number is clearly visible from the road, making it easier for fire fighters to find your home quickly.
  • Purchase escape ladders for second floor bedrooms.
  • Make a list of the phone numbers, both landline and cell, for your neighbors. We have friends who were involved in the last

    • San Diego wildfire and they never received an evacuation warning, but they noticed the flames approaching and called their neighbors’ cell phones, and knocked on their doors as they were evacuating. Thanks to their efforts everyone on their block made it out safely.

    Create a Family Plan

    • Teach children about fire safety. Keep matches out of their reach.
    • Teach older children to use a fire extinguisher.
    • Teach your family to have a bucket of sand or water nearby when barbecuing, using tools or toys that create sparks, or when using fireworks.
    • Post fire emergency telephone numbers.
    • Plan several escape routes away from your home — by car and by foot — and practice them as a family.
    • Review with your family how officials will warn you if there is danger.
    • Create a plan in case you are not at home when the emergency arises, and your children need to evacuate.
    • Teach your family about the importance of keeping your property clean to help prevent fires.
    • Plan two exits from your home in case doors or windows are blocked by an exterior fire. Practice evacuating using both exits.
    • Practice evacuating your home in the middle of the night.
    • Plan how your family will stay in touch if you are separated by a wildfire. All family members should know the name and phone number for your out-of-state contact.
    • Choose a meeting place outside your neighborhood in case you can’t return home. Hold a drill to practice gathering at this location.
    • Post emergency telephone numbers by every phone and teach your children how and when to use them.

    Create a Neighborhood Plan

    Talk to your neighbors about what they are doing now to prepare for the fire season and how they might be able to respond to fire reports in the area. There may be things you can do together to prevent the spread of fire, and to survive if one occurs.

    • Gather and distribute a list of home and cell phone numbers for emergencies.
    • Decide on a channel to use on walkie-talkies to communicate during a crisis.
    • Identify potential fire hazards.
    • Determine which hazards can be corrected by working together.
    • Notify the proper authorities to correct the problem.
    • Identify roadways which are blocked or poorly marked. During a fire the line down the center of the road may be your only guide. If roads need attention notify the city or county authorities.
    • Create a plan for how the neighborhood could work together after a wildfire. Make a list of your neighbors’ skills, such as medical, construction or technical.
    • Consider how you could help neighbors who have special needs such as seniors or people with disabilities.
    • Make plans to take care of children who may be on their own if their parents can’t get home.
    • Make a list of neighbors with heavy equipment and other fire-fighting tools.
    • Develop a neighborhood plan for things that need to be done.
    • Develop a neighborhood phone tree.
    • Plan a neighborhood meeting with the fire department to have questions answered and to get advice.

    Create a Safety Zone around Your Home

    Design and landscape your home with wildfire safety in mind. All vegetation is fuel for a wildfire, though some trees and shrubs are more flammable than others. The greater the distance between your home and the vegetation, the greater your protection.

    You can take steps now to reduce the potential for disaster. Homes built in pine forests should have a minimum safety zone of 100 feet. Fire spreads very quickly uphill. Homes built on a steep slope therefore, will require additional protection. The steeper the slope, the more open space you will need to protect your home. All other homes should have a 30-foot safety zone around them.

    • Move shrubs and other landscaping away from the sides of the house.
    • Cut and water lawns often.
    • Prune branches and shrubs to allow for 15 feet between vegetation and chimneys and stove pipes.
    • Prune tree limbs 15 feet above the ground.
    • Prune tree limbs so they don’t overhang the roof.
    • Replace highly flammable vegetation such as pine, eucalyptus, junipers and firs with less flammable varieties. If in doubt, ask
    • Call your local fire department or landscape professional for suggestions.
    • Remove vines from the walls of your house, outbuildings and garden walls.
    • Remove all dead tree branches from the ground-level up (these act as ladder fuels for the approaching fire).
    • Clear the area of leaves, brush, and fallen limbs.
    • Remove debris from under sun decks and porches.
    • Replace wooden decks with non-combustible materials such as concrete, brick, rock, or man-made materials. Building a deck structure at ground level will eliminate the danger of a fire starting under a deck.
    • Use non-combustible patio furniture and covers.
    • Adding a brick or rock wall around your property will help prevent a grass fire from threatening your home.
    • Patios and pools are also great improvements in a 30-foot safety zone.
    • When possible, install electrical lines underground.
    • If you notice branches around power lines, ask the power company to clear them.
    • Avoid using bark and wood chip mulch.
    • Stack firewood 100 feet away and uphill from any structure.
    • Store combustible or flammable materials in approved safety containers away from your home.
    • Keep the gas grill and propane tank at least 15 feet from any structure. Clear an area 10 feet around the grill.
    • Clear at least a 10-foot area around propane tanks.
    • Dispose of newspapers. Do not allow them to stack up.
    • Place stove, fireplace and grill ashes in a metal bucket far from structures. Soak with water.
    • Have garden hoses that are long enough to reach any area of your home and other structures on your property.

    When Wildfire Threatens

    If you are warned that a wildfire is threatening your area, listen to your radio for reports and evacuation information. Follow the instructions of local officials immediately. While you wait for the order to evacuate:

    • Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape. Shut the doors, but do not lock them, and roll up windows. Leave the key in the ignition or make sure it is in your pocket at all times. Close garage windows and doors, but leave them unlocked. Disconnect automatic garage door openers, just in case the electricity goes out.
    • Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape. Shut the doors, but do not lock them, and roll up windows. Leave the key in the ignition or make sure it is in your pocket at all times. Close garage windows and doors, but leave them unlocked. Disconnect automatic garage door openers, just in case the electricity goes out.
    • Gather pets into one room, making them easy to find when it is time to leave.
    • Evacuate large animals, such as horses, to a safe location.
    • Arrange temporary housing at a friend’s home outside the threatened area.
    • Notify your out-of-state emergency contact of your plans and give them the phone number and address of the place you will evacuate to.
    • Load your 72-hour kits and important family possessions in your car.
    • Place pet supplies and leashes in the car.
    • Place maps in the car with at least two evacuation routes clearly marked.
    • Change into protective clothing including long pants, long-sleeved shirt, heavy socks and sturdy shoes.
    • Have hand towels or bandanas ready for each member of the family.
    • Contact your neighbors to make sure they have heard the warnings.
    • Close all windows and vents.
    • Move flammable furniture into the center of the home away from windows and sliding-glass doors.
    • Move all flammable patio furniture indoors.
    • Turn on a light in each room and also your outdoor lights, to increase the visibility of your home in heavy smoke.

    If Advised to Evacuate, Do It Immediately

    • Wet the towels or bandanas you have set aside and take them with you. Holding these over your nose will help you breath in a smoky environment.
    • Lock your home.
    • Call you neighbors as you are leaving. Warn them if you are aware of an escape route that is blocked.
    • Call family members who were staying at other homes to inform them where you are going.
    • Call your out of state contact to inform them you are heading for the safe location you have given them earlier.
    • When you have reached your destination, gather all your family members to that location.

    Survival in a Vehicle

    This is very dangerous and should only be done in an extreme emergency, but you can survive a firestorm if you stay in your car. Outrunning a firestorm on foot is almost always impossible.

    • Roll up windows and close air vents. Drive slowly with headlights on. Watch for other vehicles and pedestrians. Do not drive through heavy smoke.
    • If you are forced to stop, park away from trees and brush. Turn headlights on and ignition off. Roll up windows and close air vents.
    • Get on the floor and cover up with a blanket or coat.
    • Breathe through a cloth.
    • Stay in the vehicle until the main fire passes.
    • Stay in the car! Do not run! Be prepared for the temperature to dramatically increase and for air currents, caused by the fire, to rock the car. Gas tanks can explode but rarely do unless they are punctured.

    If You Are Trapped at Home

    Stay calm. As the fire front approaches, go inside the house. You can survive a fast-moving wildfire, but this should always be a last resort and never your first choice!

    • Close all windows and exterior doors
    • Close all interior doors.
    • Go to the center of the house.
    • Stuff towels or blankets under the door to help prevent smoke from entering the room.
    • Lie on the floor and cover up with a blanket. A wool blanket is best as it will take longer to ignite.
    • Breathe through a wet cloth

    What to do After a Wildfire

    • Check the roof immediately. Put out any fires, sparks or embers.
    • Check the attic for hidden burning or smoldering sparks.
    • Put out any small remaining brush fires.
    • The water you put into your pool, hot tub, or water storage barrels can be siphoned to provide water if the electricity is off and your well isn’t working or if community water supplies are interrupted. You can also connect a hose to the outlet on your water heater for added water supply.
    • Rake any areas that appear to be smoldering and extinguish any embers you find.
    • Check the inside of your home for any embers that may have entered.
    • For several hours after the fire, maintain a fire watch by walking around your home inside and out, checking for any new hot spots.

    It is so important to research the risk of wildfire in the area where you live. We have lived in our community for 20 years and have not seen a wildfire here, except for grass fires on neighboring farms that were quickly put out by our fire department. No headlines here.

    But those who have lived in our town longer than we have remember a fire that swept through the river bottom areas that adjoin our town (less than a mile from our neighborhood), which created real fear and panic that it would spread to neighborhoods and burn the city.

    So, even if there is not a recent memory of such events, that does not mean the danger is diminished, but may in fact mean the risk has quietly grown worse with years of new undergrowth in wilderness areas, while residential areas have encroached deeper into that wilderness.

    The time to clear a fire break between our home and the path of a wildfire is now. Preparing home and family must also be done now, and not later. At its root, this takes spiritual as well intellectual commitment. As an American evangelist once said: “Heaven is a prepared place, for a prepared people.”

    Like judgment day, a wildfire emergency offers no postponements, and no deferments. When smoke and flames approach, it is too late to do any more than implement the preparations we have already put in place, keep a cool head, and trust in the Lord.

Create a Family Plan

  • Teach children about fire safety. Keep matches out of their reach.
  • Teach older children to use a fire extinguisher.
  • Teach your family to have a bucket of sand or water nearby when barbecuing, using tools or toys that create sparks, or when using fireworks.
  • Post fire emergency telephone numbers.
  • Plan several escape routes away from your home — by car and by foot — and practice them as a family.
  • Review with your family how officials will warn you if there is danger.
  • Create a plan in case you are not at home when the emergency arises, and your children need to evacuate.
  • Teach your family about the importance of keeping your property clean to help prevent fires.
  • Plan two exits from your home in case doors or windows are blocked by an exterior fire. Practice evacuating using both exits.
  • Practice evacuating your home in the middle of the night.
  • Plan how your family will stay in touch if you are separated by a wildfire. All family members should know the name and phone number for your out-of-state contact.
  • Choose a meeting place outside your neighborhood in case you can’t return home. Hold a drill to practice gathering at this location.
  • Post emergency telephone numbers by every phone and teach your children how and when to use them.

Create a Neighborhood Plan

Talk to your neighbors about what they are doing now to prepare for the fire season and how they might be able to respond to fire reports in the area. There may be things you can do together to prevent the spread of fire, and to survive if one occurs.

  • Gather and distribute a list of home and cell phone numbers for emergencies.
  • Decide on a channel to use on walkie-talkies to communicate during a crisis.
  • Identify potential fire hazards.
  • Determine which hazards can be corrected by working together.
  • Notify the proper authorities to correct the problem.
  • Identify roadways which are blocked or poorly marked. During a fire the line down the center of the road may be your only guide. If roads need attention notify the city or county authorities.
  • Create a plan for how the neighborhood could work together after a wildfire. Make a list of your neighbors’ skills, such as medical, construction or technical.
  • Consider how you could help neighbors who have special needs such as seniors or people with disabilities.
  • Make plans to take care of children who may be on their own if their parents can’t get home.
  • Make a list of neighbors with heavy equipment and other fire-fighting tools.
  • Develop a neighborhood plan for things that need to be done.
  • Develop a neighborhood phone tree.
  • Plan a neighborhood meeting with the fire department to have questions answered and to get advice.

Create a Safety Zone around Your Home

Design and landscape your home with wildfire safety in mind. All vegetation is fuel for a wildfire, though some trees and shrubs are more flammable than others. The greater the distance between your home and the vegetation, the greater your protection.

You can take steps now to reduce the potential for disaster. Homes built in pine forests should have a minimum safety zone of 100 feet. Fire spreads very quickly uphill. Homes built on a steep slope therefore, will require additional protection. The steeper the slope, the more open space you will need to protect your home. All other homes should have a 30-foot safety zone around them.

  • Move shrubs and other landscaping away from the sides of the house.
  • Cut and water lawns often.
  • Prune branches and shrubs to allow for 15 feet between vegetation and chimneys and stove pipes.
  • Prune tree limbs 15 feet above the ground.
  • Prune tree limbs so they don’t overhang the roof.
  • Replace highly flammable vegetation such as pine, eucalyptus, junipers and firs with less flammable varieties. If in doubt, ask
  • Call your local fire department or landscape professional for suggestions.
  • Remove vines from the walls of your house, outbuildings and garden walls.
  • Remove all dead tree branches from the ground-level up (these act as ladder fuels for the approaching fire).
  • Clear the area of leaves, brush, and fallen limbs.
  • Remove debris from under sun decks and porches.
  • Replace wooden decks with non-combustible materials such as concrete, brick, rock, or man-made materials. Building a deck structure at ground level will eliminate the danger of a fire starting under a deck.
  • Use non-combustible patio furniture and covers.
  • Adding a brick or rock wall around your property will help prevent a grass fire from threatening your home.
  • Patios and pools are also great improvements in a 30-foot safety zone.
  • When possible, install electrical lines underground.
  • If you notice branches around power lines, ask the power company to clear them.
  • Avoid using bark and wood chip mulch.
  • Stack firewood 100 feet away and uphill from any structure.
  • Store combustible or flammable materials in approved safety containers away from your home.
  • Keep the gas grill and propane tank at least 15 feet from any structure. Clear an area 10 feet around the grill.
  • Clear at least a 10-foot area around propane tanks.
  • Dispose of newspapers. Do not allow them to stack up.
  • Place stove, fireplace and grill ashes in a metal bucket far from structures. Soak with water.
  • Have garden hoses that are long enough to reach any area of your home and other structures on your property.

When Wildfire Threatens

If you are warned that a wildfire is threatening your area, listen to your radio for reports and evacuation information. Follow the instructions of local officials immediately. While you wait for the order to evacuate:

  • Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape. Shut the doors, but do not lock them, and roll up windows. Leave the key in the ignition or make sure it is in your pocket at all times. Close garage windows and doors, but leave them unlocked. Disconnect automatic garage door openers, just in case the electricity goes out.
  • Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape. Shut the doors, but do not lock them, and roll up windows. Leave the key in the ignition or make sure it is in your pocket at all times. Close garage windows and doors, but leave them unlocked. Disconnect automatic garage door openers, just in case the electricity goes out.
  • Gather pets into one room, making them easy to find when it is time to leave.
  • Evacuate large animals, such as horses, to a safe location.
  • Arrange temporary housing at a friend’s home outside the threatened area.
  • Notify your out-of-state emergency contact of your plans and give them the phone number and address of the place you will evacuate to.
  • Load your 72-hour kits and important family possessions in your car.
  • Place pet supplies and leashes in the car.
  • Place maps in the car with at least two evacuation routes clearly marked.
  • Change into protective clothing including long pants, long-sleeved shirt, heavy socks and sturdy shoes.
  • Have hand towels or bandanas ready for each member of the family.
  • Contact your neighbors to make sure they have heard the warnings.
  • Close all windows and vents.
  • Move flammable furniture into the center of the home away from windows and sliding-glass doors.
  • Move all flammable patio furniture indoors.
  • Turn on a light in each room and also your outdoor lights, to increase the visibility of your home in heavy smoke.

If Advised to Evacuate, Do It Immediately

  • Wet the towels or bandanas you have set aside and take them with you. Holding these over your nose will help you breath in a smoky environment.
  • Lock your home.
  • Call you neighbors as you are leaving. Warn them if you are aware of an escape route that is blocked.
  • Call family members who were staying at other homes to inform them where you are going.
  • Call your out of state contact to inform them you are heading for the safe location you have given them earlier.
  • When you have reached your destination, gather all your family members to that location.

Survival in a Vehicle

This is very dangerous and should only be done in an extreme emergency, but you can survive a firestorm if you stay in your car. Outrunning a firestorm on foot is almost always impossible.

  • Roll up windows and close air vents. Drive slowly with headlights on. Watch for other vehicles and pedestrians. Do not drive through heavy smoke.
  • If you are forced to stop, park away from trees and brush. Turn headlights on and ignition off. Roll up windows and close air vents.
  • Get on the floor and cover up with a blanket or coat.
  • Breathe through a cloth.
  • Stay in the vehicle until the main fire passes.
  • Stay in the car! Do not run! Be prepared for the temperature to dramatically increase and for air currents, caused by the fire, to rock the car. Gas tanks can explode but rarely do unless they are punctured.

If You Are Trapped at Home

Stay calm. As the fire front approaches, go inside the house. You can survive a fast-moving wildfire, but this should always be a last resort and never your first choice!

  • Close all windows and exterior doors
  • Close all interior doors.
  • Go to the center of the house.
  • Stuff towels or blankets under the door to help prevent smoke from entering the room.
  • Lie on the floor and cover up with a blanket. A wool blanket is best as it will take longer to ignite.
  • Breathe through a wet cloth

What to do After a Wildfire

  • Check the roof immediately. Put out any fires, sparks or embers.
  • Check the attic for hidden burning or smoldering sparks.
  • Put out any small remaining brush fires.
  • The water you put into your pool, hot tub, or water storage barrels can be siphoned to provide water if the electricity is off and your well isn’t working or if community water supplies are interrupted. You can also connect a hose to the outlet on your water heater for added water supply.
  • Rake any areas that appear to be smoldering and extinguish any embers you find.
  • Check the inside of your home for any embers that may have entered.
  • For several hours after the fire, maintain a fire watch by walking around your home inside and out, checking for any new hot spots.

It is so important to research the risk of wildfire in the area where you live. We have lived in our community for 20 years and have not seen a wildfire here, except for grass fires on neighboring farms that were quickly put out by our fire department. No headlines here.

But those who have lived in our town longer than we have remember a fire that swept through the river bottom areas that adjoin our town (less than a mile from our neighborhood), which created real fear and panic that it would spread to neighborhoods and burn the city.

So, even if there is not a recent memory of such events, that does not mean the danger is diminished, but may in fact mean the risk has quietly grown worse with years of new undergrowth in wilderness areas, while residential areas have encroached deeper into that wilderness.

The time to clear a fire break between our home and the path of a wildfire is now. Preparing home and family must also be done now, and not later. At its root, this takes spiritual as well intellectual commitment. As an American evangelist once said: “Heaven is a prepared place, for a prepared people.”

Like judgment day, a wildfire emergency offers no postponements, and no deferments. When smoke and flames approach, it is too late to do any more than implement the preparations we have already put in place, keep a cool head, and trust in the Lord.

Before Wildfire Threatens

  • Have a building professional inspect your property and offer recommendations for reducing the wildfire risk.
  • Have a landscaping professional inspect your property and make recommendations for reducing your risks.
  • Regularly clean roof and gutters.
  • Inspect and clean chimneys at least once a year. Make sure you inspect the damper and spark arrester as well.
  • Install half-inch mesh screen beneath porches, decks, floor areas and the home itself. Also, screen openings to floors, roof and attic.
  • Install a smoke/carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home, especially outside bedrooms. Test batteries monthly and change them once a year. Changing them on the same day each year will help you remember. Choose a day such as a birthday or holiday.
  • Purchase at least one good, large, fire extinguisher (ABC type)
  • Purchase or organize items that can be used as fire fighting tools: a rake, axe, handsaw or chainsaw, hose, bucket, shovel and bag of sand.
  • Enclose eaves and overhangs.
  • Cover house vents with fourth-inch, or smaller, wire mesh. Any attic vent, louver, attic fan, or other opening may allow embers and flaming debris to enter your home and ignite.
  • Use fire-resistant siding and roofing materials. If you currently have a shake roof or wood siding, replace it as soon as possible. Shake roofing and wood siding will allow your home to be engulfed in a very short time.
  • Choose safety glass for windows and sliding glass doors. Radiated heat passing through a windowpane can ignite combustible materials inside. Dual- or triple-pane thermal glass, fire resistant shutters, and drapes all help reduce the risk.
  • Consider installing protective shutters or heavy fire-resistant drapes.
  • Prepare for water storage. After a fire, water supplies may be limited. Create and maintain a small pond, well or pool and store extra water.
  • Install freeze-proof exterior water faucets on at least two sides of your home and near other structures on the property. If you cannot do this make sure you have the materials available to wrap and protect your pipes so in the event of a fire you don’t find yourself without water.
  • Consider purchasing a generator to provide power after the fire has passed. Electric service will probably be down for several days.
  • Make sure your house number is clearly visible from the road, making it easier for fire fighters to find your home quickly.
  • Purchase escape ladders for second floor bedrooms.
  • Make a list of the phone numbers, both landline and cell, for your neighbors. We have friends who were involved in the last

    • San Diego wildfire and they never received an evacuation warning, but they noticed the flames approaching and called their neighbors’ cell phones, and knocked on their doors as they were evacuating. Thanks to their efforts everyone on their block made it out safely.

    Create a Family Plan

    • Teach children about fire safety. Keep matches out of their reach.
    • Teach older children to use a fire extinguisher.
    • Teach your family to have a bucket of sand or water nearby when barbecuing, using tools or toys that create sparks, or when using fireworks.
    • Post fire emergency telephone numbers.
    • Plan several escape routes away from your home — by car and by foot — and practice them as a family.
    • Review with your family how officials will warn you if there is danger.
    • Create a plan in case you are not at home when the emergency arises, and your children need to evacuate.
    • Teach your family about the importance of keeping your property clean to help prevent fires.
    • Plan two exits from your home in case doors or windows are blocked by an exterior fire. Practice evacuating using both exits.
    • Practice evacuating your home in the middle of the night.
    • Plan how your family will stay in touch if you are separated by a wildfire. All family members should know the name and phone number for your out-of-state contact.
    • Choose a meeting place outside your neighborhood in case you can’t return home. Hold a drill to practice gathering at this location.
    • Post emergency telephone numbers by every phone and teach your children how and when to use them.

    Create a Neighborhood Plan

    Talk to your neighbors about what they are doing now to prepare for the fire season and how they might be able to respond to fire reports in the area. There may be things you can do together to prevent the spread of fire, and to survive if one occurs.

    • Gather and distribute a list of home and cell phone numbers for emergencies.
    • Decide on a channel to use on walkie-talkies to communicate during a crisis.
    • Identify potential fire hazards.
    • Determine which hazards can be corrected by working together.
    • Notify the proper authorities to correct the problem.
    • Identify roadways which are blocked or poorly marked. During a fire the line down the center of the road may be your only guide. If roads need attention notify the city or county authorities.
    • Create a plan for how the neighborhood could work together after a wildfire. Make a list of your neighbors’ skills, such as medical, construction or technical.
    • Consider how you could help neighbors who have special needs such as seniors or people with disabilities.
    • Make plans to take care of children who may be on their own if their parents can’t get home.
    • Make a list of neighbors with heavy equipment and other fire-fighting tools.
    • Develop a neighborhood plan for things that need to be done.
    • Develop a neighborhood phone tree.
    • Plan a neighborhood meeting with the fire department to have questions answered and to get advice.

    Create a Safety Zone around Your Home

    Design and landscape your home with wildfire safety in mind. All vegetation is fuel for a wildfire, though some trees and shrubs are more flammable than others. The greater the distance between your home and the vegetation, the greater your protection.

    You can take steps now to reduce the potential for disaster. Homes built in pine forests should have a minimum safety zone of 100 feet. Fire spreads very quickly uphill. Homes built on a steep slope therefore, will require additional protection. The steeper the slope, the more open space you will need to protect your home. All other homes should have a 30-foot safety zone around them.

    • Move shrubs and other landscaping away from the sides of the house.
    • Cut and water lawns often.
    • Prune branches and shrubs to allow for 15 feet between vegetation and chimneys and stove pipes.
    • Prune tree limbs 15 feet above the ground.
    • Prune tree limbs so they don’t overhang the roof.
    • Replace highly flammable vegetation such as pine, eucalyptus, junipers and firs with less flammable varieties. If in doubt, ask
    • Call your local fire department or landscape professional for suggestions.
    • Remove vines from the walls of your house, outbuildings and garden walls.
    • Remove all dead tree branches from the ground-level up (these act as ladder fuels for the approaching fire).
    • Clear the area of leaves, brush, and fallen limbs.
    • Remove debris from under sun decks and porches.
    • Replace wooden decks with non-combustible materials such as concrete, brick, rock, or man-made materials. Building a deck structure at ground level will eliminate the danger of a fire starting under a deck.
    • Use non-combustible patio furniture and covers.
    • Adding a brick or rock wall around your property will help prevent a grass fire from threatening your home.
    • Patios and pools are also great improvements in a 30-foot safety zone.
    • When possible, install electrical lines underground.
    • If you notice branches around power lines, ask the power company to clear them.
    • Avoid using bark and wood chip mulch.
    • Stack firewood 100 feet away and uphill from any structure.
    • Store combustible or flammable materials in approved safety containers away from your home.
    • Keep the gas grill and propane tank at least 15 feet from any structure. Clear an area 10 feet around the grill.
    • Clear at least a 10-foot area around propane tanks.
    • Dispose of newspapers. Do not allow them to stack up.
    • Place stove, fireplace and grill ashes in a metal bucket far from structures. Soak with water.
    • Have garden hoses that are long enough to reach any area of your home and other structures on your property.

    When Wildfire Threatens

    If you are warned that a wildfire is threatening your area, listen to your radio for reports and evacuation information. Follow the instructions of local officials immediately. While you wait for the order to evacuate:

    • Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape. Shut the doors, but do not lock them, and roll up windows. Leave the key in the ignition or make sure it is in your pocket at all times. Close garage windows and doors, but leave them unlocked. Disconnect automatic garage door openers, just in case the electricity goes out.
    • Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape. Shut the doors, but do not lock them, and roll up windows. Leave the key in the ignition or make sure it is in your pocket at all times. Close garage windows and doors, but leave them unlocked. Disconnect automatic garage door openers, just in case the electricity goes out.
    • Gather pets into one room, making them easy to find when it is time to leave.
    • Evacuate large animals, such as horses, to a safe location.
    • Arrange temporary housing at a friend’s home outside the threatened area.
    • Notify your out-of-state emergency contact of your plans and give them the phone number and address of the place you will evacuate to.
    • Load your 72-hour kits and important family possessions in your car.
    • Place pet supplies and leashes in the car.
    • Place maps in the car with at least two evacuation routes clearly marked.
    • Change into protective clothing including long pants, long-sleeved shirt, heavy socks and sturdy shoes.
    • Have hand towels or bandanas ready for each member of the family.
    • Contact your neighbors to make sure they have heard the warnings.
    • Close all windows and vents.
    • Move flammable furniture into the center of the home away from windows and sliding-glass doors.
    • Move all flammable patio furniture indoors.
    • Turn on a light in each room and also your outdoor lights, to increase the visibility of your home in heavy smoke.

    If Advised to Evacuate, Do It Immediately

    • Wet the towels or bandanas you have set aside and take them with you. Holding these over your nose will help you breath in a smoky environment.
    • Lock your home.
    • Call you neighbors as you are leaving. Warn them if you are aware of an escape route that is blocked.
    • Call family members who were staying at other homes to inform them where you are going.
    • Call your out of state contact to inform them you are heading for the safe location you have given them earlier.
    • When you have reached your destination, gather all your family members to that location.

    Survival in a Vehicle

    This is very dangerous and should only be done in an extreme emergency, but you can survive a firestorm if you stay in your car. Outrunning a firestorm on foot is almost always impossible.

    • Roll up windows and close air vents. Drive slowly with headlights on. Watch for other vehicles and pedestrians. Do not drive through heavy smoke.
    • If you are forced to stop, park away from trees and brush. Turn headlights on and ignition off. Roll up windows and close air vents.
    • Get on the floor and cover up with a blanket or coat.
    • Breathe through a cloth.
    • Stay in the vehicle until the main fire passes.
    • Stay in the car! Do not run! Be prepared for the temperature to dramatically increase and for air currents, caused by the fire, to rock the car. Gas tanks can explode but rarely do unless they are punctured.

    If You Are Trapped at Home

    Stay calm. As the fire front approaches, go inside the house. You can survive a fast-moving wildfire, but this should always be a last resort and never your first choice!

    • Close all windows and exterior doors
    • Close all interior doors.
    • Go to the center of the house.
    • Stuff towels or blankets under the door to help prevent smoke from entering the room.
    • Lie on the floor and cover up with a blanket. A wool blanket is best as it will take longer to ignite.
    • Breathe through a wet cloth

    What to do After a Wildfire

    • Check the roof immediately. Put out any fires, sparks or embers.
    • Check the attic for hidden burning or smoldering sparks.
    • Put out any small remaining brush fires.
    • The water you put into your pool, hot tub, or water storage barrels can be siphoned to provide water if the electricity is off and your well isn’t working or if community water supplies are interrupted. You can also connect a hose to the outlet on your water heater for added water supply.
    • Rake any areas that appear to be smoldering and extinguish any embers you find.
    • Check the inside of your home for any embers that may have entered.
    • For several hours after the fire, maintain a fire watch by walking around your home inside and out, checking for any new hot spots.

    It is so important to research the risk of wildfire in the area where you live. We have lived in our community for 20 years and have not seen a wildfire here, except for grass fires on neighboring farms that were quickly put out by our fire department. No headlines here.

    But those who have lived in our town longer than we have remember a fire that swept through the river bottom areas that adjoin our town (less than a mile from our neighborhood), which created real fear and panic that it would spread to neighborhoods and burn the city.

    So, even if there is not a recent memory of such events, that does not mean the danger is diminished, but may in fact mean the risk has quietly grown worse with years of new undergrowth in wilderness areas, while residential areas have encroached deeper into that wilderness.

    The time to clear a fire break between our home and the path of a wildfire is now. Preparing home and family must also be done now, and not later. At its root, this takes spiritual as well intellectual commitment. As an American evangelist once said: “Heaven is a prepared place, for a prepared people.”

    Like judgment day, a wildfire emergency offers no postponements, and no deferments. When smoke and flames approach, it is too late to do any more than implement the preparations we have already put in place, keep a cool head, and trust in the Lord.

Create a Family Plan

  • Teach children about fire safety. Keep matches out of their reach.
  • Teach older children to use a fire extinguisher.
  • Teach your family to have a bucket of sand or water nearby when barbecuing, using tools or toys that create sparks, or when using fireworks.
  • Post fire emergency telephone numbers.
  • Plan several escape routes away from your home — by car and by foot — and practice them as a family.
  • Review with your family how officials will warn you if there is danger.
  • Create a plan in case you are not at home when the emergency arises, and your children need to evacuate.
  • Teach your family about the importance of keeping your property clean to help prevent fires.
  • Plan two exits from your home in case doors or windows are blocked by an exterior fire. Practice evacuating using both exits.
  • Practice evacuating your home in the middle of the night.
  • Plan how your family will stay in touch if you are separated by a wildfire. All family members should know the name and phone number for your out-of-state contact.
  • Choose a meeting place outside your neighborhood in case you can’t return home. Hold a drill to practice gathering at this location.
  • Post emergency telephone numbers by every phone and teach your children how and when to use them.

Create a Neighborhood Plan

Talk to your neighbors about what they are doing now to prepare for the fire season and how they might be able to respond to fire reports in the area. There may be things you can do together to prevent the spread of fire, and to survive if one occurs.

  • Gather and distribute a list of home and cell phone numbers for emergencies.
  • Decide on a channel to use on walkie-talkies to communicate during a crisis.
  • Identify potential fire hazards.
  • Determine which hazards can be corrected by working together.
  • Notify the proper authorities to correct the problem.
  • Identify roadways which are blocked or poorly marked. During a fire the line down the center of the road may be your only guide. If roads need attention notify the city or county authorities.
  • Create a plan for how the neighborhood could work together after a wildfire. Make a list of your neighbors’ skills, such as medical, construction or technical.
  • Consider how you could help neighbors who have special needs such as seniors or people with disabilities.
  • Make plans to take care of children who may be on their own if their parents can’t get home.
  • Make a list of neighbors with heavy equipment and other fire-fighting tools.
  • Develop a neighborhood plan for things that need to be done.
  • Develop a neighborhood phone tree.
  • Plan a neighborhood meeting with the fire department to have questions answered and to get advice.

Create a Safety Zone around Your Home

Design and landscape your home with wildfire safety in mind. All vegetation is fuel for a wildfire, though some trees and shrubs are more flammable than others. The greater the distance between your home and the vegetation, the greater your protection.

You can take steps now to reduce the potential for disaster. Homes built in pine forests should have a minimum safety zone of 100 feet. Fire spreads very quickly uphill. Homes built on a steep slope therefore, will require additional protection. The steeper the slope, the more open space you will need to protect your home. All other homes should have a 30-foot safety zone around them.

  • Move shrubs and other landscaping away from the sides of the house.
  • Cut and water lawns often.
  • Prune branches and shrubs to allow for 15 feet between vegetation and chimneys and stove pipes.
  • Prune tree limbs 15 feet above the ground.
  • Prune tree limbs so they don’t overhang the roof.
  • Replace highly flammable vegetation such as pine, eucalyptus, junipers and firs with less flammable varieties. If in doubt, ask
  • Call your local fire department or landscape professional for suggestions.
  • Remove vines from the walls of your house, outbuildings and garden walls.
  • Remove all dead tree branches from the ground-level up (these act as ladder fuels for the approaching fire).
  • Clear the area of leaves, brush, and fallen limbs.
  • Remove debris from under sun decks and porches.
  • Replace wooden decks with non-combustible materials such as concrete, brick, rock, or man-made materials. Building a deck structure at ground level will eliminate the danger of a fire starting under a deck.
  • Use non-combustible patio furniture and covers.
  • Adding a brick or rock wall around your property will help prevent a grass fire from threatening your home.
  • Patios and pools are also great improvements in a 30-foot safety zone.
  • When possible, install electrical lines underground.
  • If you notice branches around power lines, ask the power company to clear them.
  • Avoid using bark and wood chip mulch.
  • Stack firewood 100 feet away and uphill from any structure.
  • Store combustible or flammable materials in approved safety containers away from your home.
  • Keep the gas grill and propane tank at least 15 feet from any structure. Clear an area 10 feet around the grill.
  • Clear at least a 10-foot area around propane tanks.
  • Dispose of newspapers. Do not allow them to stack up.
  • Place stove, fireplace and grill ashes in a metal bucket far from structures. Soak with water.
  • Have garden hoses that are long enough to reach any area of your home and other structures on your property.

When Wildfire Threatens

If you are warned that a wildfire is threatening your area, listen to your radio for reports and evacuation information. Follow the instructions of local officials immediately. While you wait for the order to evacuate:

  • Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape. Shut the doors, but do not lock them, and roll up windows. Leave the key in the ignition or make sure it is in your pocket at all times. Close garage windows and doors, but leave them unlocked. Disconnect automatic garage door openers, just in case the electricity goes out.
  • Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape. Shut the doors, but do not lock them, and roll up windows. Leave the key in the ignition or make sure it is in your pocket at all times. Close garage windows and doors, but leave them unlocked. Disconnect automatic garage door openers, just in case the electricity goes out.
  • Gather pets into one room, making them easy to find when it is time to leave.
  • Evacuate large animals, such as horses, to a safe location.
  • Arrange temporary housing at a friend’s home outside the threatened area.
  • Notify your out-of-state emergency contact of your plans and give them the phone number and address of the place you will evacuate to.
  • Load your 72-hour kits and important family possessions in your car.
  • Place pet supplies and leashes in the car.
  • Place maps in the car with at least two evacuation routes clearly marked.
  • Change into protective clothing including long pants, long-sleeved shirt, heavy socks and sturdy shoes.
  • Have hand towels or bandanas ready for each member of the family.
  • Contact your neighbors to make sure they have heard the warnings.
  • Close all windows and vents.
  • Move flammable furniture into the center of the home away from windows and sliding-glass doors.
  • Move all flammable patio furniture indoors.
  • Turn on a light in each room and also your outdoor lights, to increase the visibility of your home in heavy smoke.

If Advised to Evacuate, Do It Immediately

  • Wet the towels or bandanas you have set aside and take them with you. Holding these over your nose will help you breath in a smoky environment.
  • Lock your home.
  • Call you neighbors as you are leaving. Warn them if you are aware of an escape route that is blocked.
  • Call family members who were staying at other homes to inform them where you are going.
  • Call your out of state contact to inform them you are heading for the safe location you have given them earlier.
  • When you have reached your destination, gather all your family members to that location.

Survival in a Vehicle

This is very dangerous and should only be done in an extreme emergency, but you can survive a firestorm if you stay in your car. Outrunning a firestorm on foot is almost always impossible.

  • Roll up windows and close air vents. Drive slowly with headlights on. Watch for other vehicles and pedestrians. Do not drive through heavy smoke.
  • If you are forced to stop, park away from trees and brush. Turn headlights on and ignition off. Roll up windows and close air vents.
  • Get on the floor and cover up with a blanket or coat.
  • Breathe through a cloth.
  • Stay in the vehicle until the main fire passes.
  • Stay in the car! Do not run! Be prepared for the temperature to dramatically increase and for air currents, caused by the fire, to rock the car. Gas tanks can explode but rarely do unless they are punctured.

If You Are Trapped at Home

Stay calm. As the fire front approaches, go inside the house. You can survive a fast-moving wildfire, but this should always be a last resort and never your first choice!

  • Close all windows and exterior doors
  • Close all interior doors.
  • Go to the center of the house.
  • Stuff towels or blankets under the door to help prevent smoke from entering the room.
  • Lie on the floor and cover up with a blanket. A wool blanket is best as it will take longer to ignite.
  • Breathe through a wet cloth

What to do After a Wildfire

  • Check the roof immediately. Put out any fires, sparks or embers.
  • Check the attic for hidden burning or smoldering sparks.
  • Put out any small remaining brush fires.
  • The water you put into your pool, hot tub, or water storage barrels can be siphoned to provide water if the electricity is off and your well isn’t working or if community water supplies are interrupted. You can also connect a hose to the outlet on your water heater for added water supply.
  • Rake any areas that appear to be smoldering and extinguish any embers you find.
  • Check the inside of your home for any embers that may have entered.
  • For several hours after the fire, maintain a fire watch by walking around your home inside and out, checking for any new hot spots.

It is so important to research the risk of wildfire in the area where you live. We have lived in our community for 20 years and have not seen a wildfire here, except for grass fires on neighboring farms that were quickly put out by our fire department. No headlines here.

But those who have lived in our town longer than we have remember a fire that swept through the river bottom areas that adjoin our town (less than a mile from our neighborhood), which created real fear and panic that it would spread to neighborhoods and burn the city.

So, even if there is not a recent memory of such events, that does not mean the danger is diminished, but may in fact mean the risk has quietly grown worse with years of new undergrowth in wilderness areas, while residential areas have encroached deeper into that wilderness.

The time to clear a fire break between our home and the path of a wildfire is now. Preparing home and family must also be done now, and not later. At its root, this takes spiritual as well intellectual commitment. As an American evangelist once said: “Heaven is a prepared place, for a prepared people.”

Like judgment day, a wildfire emergency offers no postponements, and no deferments. When smoke and flames approach, it is too late to do any more than implement the preparations we have already put in place, keep a cool head, and trust in the Lord.

Wildfires often burn unnoticed until the task of fighting them becomes overwhelming. They spread quickly, igniting brush, trees, outbuildings and homes. No household sprinkler system, fire extinguisher or garden hose is up to the task of containing a wildfire.

There are many things we can do right now to prepare for the upcoming fire season. Begin by learning as much as you can about the history of wildfire in your area. Local government websites are a great resource for this information. Be aware of weather that can add to the fire danger, such as

Santa Ana winds in southern California. A long period without rain, even if not officially a drought, increases the risk of wildfire as vegetation dries out and housing expands into forested areas.

Before Wildfire Threatens

  • Have a building professional inspect your property and offer recommendations for reducing the wildfire risk.
  • Have a landscaping professional inspect your property and make recommendations for reducing your risks.
  • Regularly clean roof and gutters.
  • Inspect and clean chimneys at least once a year. Make sure you inspect the damper and spark arrester as well.
  • Install half-inch mesh screen beneath porches, decks, floor areas and the home itself. Also, screen openings to floors, roof and attic.
  • Install a smoke/carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home, especially outside bedrooms. Test batteries monthly and change them once a year. Changing them on the same day each year will help you remember. Choose a day such as a birthday or holiday.
  • Purchase at least one good, large, fire extinguisher (ABC type)
  • Purchase or organize items that can be used as fire fighting tools: a rake, axe, handsaw or chainsaw, hose, bucket, shovel and bag of sand.
  • Enclose eaves and overhangs.
  • Cover house vents with fourth-inch, or smaller, wire mesh. Any attic vent, louver, attic fan, or other opening may allow embers and flaming debris to enter your home and ignite.
  • Use fire-resistant siding and roofing materials. If you currently have a shake roof or wood siding, replace it as soon as possible. Shake roofing and wood siding will allow your home to be engulfed in a very short time.
  • Choose safety glass for windows and sliding glass doors. Radiated heat passing through a windowpane can ignite combustible materials inside. Dual- or triple-pane thermal glass, fire resistant shutters, and drapes all help reduce the risk.
  • Consider installing protective shutters or heavy fire-resistant drapes.
  • Prepare for water storage. After a fire, water supplies may be limited. Create and maintain a small pond, well or pool and store extra water.
  • Install freeze-proof exterior water faucets on at least two sides of your home and near other structures on the property. If you cannot do this make sure you have the materials available to wrap and protect your pipes so in the event of a fire you don’t find yourself without water.
  • Consider purchasing a generator to provide power after the fire has passed. Electric service will probably be down for several days.
  • Make sure your house number is clearly visible from the road, making it easier for fire fighters to find your home quickly.
  • Purchase escape ladders for second floor bedrooms.
  • Make a list of the phone numbers, both landline and cell, for your neighbors. We have friends who were involved in the last

    • San Diego wildfire and they never received an evacuation warning, but they noticed the flames approaching and called their neighbors’ cell phones, and knocked on their doors as they were evacuating. Thanks to their efforts everyone on their block made it out safely.

    Create a Family Plan

    • Teach children about fire safety. Keep matches out of their reach.
    • Teach older children to use a fire extinguisher.
    • Teach your family to have a bucket of sand or water nearby when barbecuing, using tools or toys that create sparks, or when using fireworks.
    • Post fire emergency telephone numbers.
    • Plan several escape routes away from your home — by car and by foot — and practice them as a family.
    • Review with your family how officials will warn you if there is danger.
    • Create a plan in case you are not at home when the emergency arises, and your children need to evacuate.
    • Teach your family about the importance of keeping your property clean to help prevent fires.
    • Plan two exits from your home in case doors or windows are blocked by an exterior fire. Practice evacuating using both exits.
    • Practice evacuating your home in the middle of the night.
    • Plan how your family will stay in touch if you are separated by a wildfire. All family members should know the name and phone number for your out-of-state contact.
    • Choose a meeting place outside your neighborhood in case you can’t return home. Hold a drill to practice gathering at this location.
    • Post emergency telephone numbers by every phone and teach your children how and when to use them.

    Create a Neighborhood Plan

    Talk to your neighbors about what they are doing now to prepare for the fire season and how they might be able to respond to fire reports in the area. There may be things you can do together to prevent the spread of fire, and to survive if one occurs.

    • Gather and distribute a list of home and cell phone numbers for emergencies.
    • Decide on a channel to use on walkie-talkies to communicate during a crisis.
    • Identify potential fire hazards.
    • Determine which hazards can be corrected by working together.
    • Notify the proper authorities to correct the problem.
    • Identify roadways which are blocked or poorly marked. During a fire the line down the center of the road may be your only guide. If roads need attention notify the city or county authorities.
    • Create a plan for how the neighborhood could work together after a wildfire. Make a list of your neighbors’ skills, such as medical, construction or technical.
    • Consider how you could help neighbors who have special needs such as seniors or people with disabilities.
    • Make plans to take care of children who may be on their own if their parents can’t get home.
    • Make a list of neighbors with heavy equipment and other fire-fighting tools.
    • Develop a neighborhood plan for things that need to be done.
    • Develop a neighborhood phone tree.
    • Plan a neighborhood meeting with the fire department to have questions answered and to get advice.

    Create a Safety Zone around Your Home

    Design and landscape your home with wildfire safety in mind. All vegetation is fuel for a wildfire, though some trees and shrubs are more flammable than others. The greater the distance between your home and the vegetation, the greater your protection.

    You can take steps now to reduce the potential for disaster. Homes built in pine forests should have a minimum safety zone of 100 feet. Fire spreads very quickly uphill. Homes built on a steep slope therefore, will require additional protection. The steeper the slope, the more open space you will need to protect your home. All other homes should have a 30-foot safety zone around them.

    • Move shrubs and other landscaping away from the sides of the house.
    • Cut and water lawns often.
    • Prune branches and shrubs to allow for 15 feet between vegetation and chimneys and stove pipes.
    • Prune tree limbs 15 feet above the ground.
    • Prune tree limbs so they don’t overhang the roof.
    • Replace highly flammable vegetation such as pine, eucalyptus, junipers and firs with less flammable varieties. If in doubt, ask
    • Call your local fire department or landscape professional for suggestions.
    • Remove vines from the walls of your house, outbuildings and garden walls.
    • Remove all dead tree branches from the ground-level up (these act as ladder fuels for the approaching fire).
    • Clear the area of leaves, brush, and fallen limbs.
    • Remove debris from under sun decks and porches.
    • Replace wooden decks with non-combustible materials such as concrete, brick, rock, or man-made materials. Building a deck structure at ground level will eliminate the danger of a fire starting under a deck.
    • Use non-combustible patio furniture and covers.
    • Adding a brick or rock wall around your property will help prevent a grass fire from threatening your home.
    • Patios and pools are also great improvements in a 30-foot safety zone.
    • When possible, install electrical lines underground.
    • If you notice branches around power lines, ask the power company to clear them.
    • Avoid using bark and wood chip mulch.
    • Stack firewood 100 feet away and uphill from any structure.
    • Store combustible or flammable materials in approved safety containers away from your home.
    • Keep the gas grill and propane tank at least 15 feet from any structure. Clear an area 10 feet around the grill.
    • Clear at least a 10-foot area around propane tanks.
    • Dispose of newspapers. Do not allow them to stack up.
    • Place stove, fireplace and grill ashes in a metal bucket far from structures. Soak with water.
    • Have garden hoses that are long enough to reach any area of your home and other structures on your property.

    When Wildfire Threatens

    If you are warned that a wildfire is threatening your area, listen to your radio for reports and evacuation information. Follow the instructions of local officials immediately. While you wait for the order to evacuate:

    • Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape. Shut the doors, but do not lock them, and roll up windows. Leave the key in the ignition or make sure it is in your pocket at all times. Close garage windows and doors, but leave them unlocked. Disconnect automatic garage door openers, just in case the electricity goes out.
    • Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape. Shut the doors, but do not lock them, and roll up windows. Leave the key in the ignition or make sure it is in your pocket at all times. Close garage windows and doors, but leave them unlocked. Disconnect automatic garage door openers, just in case the electricity goes out.
    • Gather pets into one room, making them easy to find when it is time to leave.
    • Evacuate large animals, such as horses, to a safe location.
    • Arrange temporary housing at a friend’s home outside the threatened area.
    • Notify your out-of-state emergency contact of your plans and give them the phone number and address of the place you will evacuate to.
    • Load your 72-hour kits and important family possessions in your car.
    • Place pet supplies and leashes in the car.
    • Place maps in the car with at least two evacuation routes clearly marked.
    • Change into protective clothing including long pants, long-sleeved shirt, heavy socks and sturdy shoes.
    • Have hand towels or bandanas ready for each member of the family.
    • Contact your neighbors to make sure they have heard the warnings.
    • Close all windows and vents.
    • Move flammable furniture into the center of the home away from windows and sliding-glass doors.
    • Move all flammable patio furniture indoors.
    • Turn on a light in each room and also your outdoor lights, to increase the visibility of your home in heavy smoke.

    If Advised to Evacuate, Do It Immediately

    • Wet the towels or bandanas you have set aside and take them with you. Holding these over your nose will help you breath in a smoky environment.
    • Lock your home.
    • Call you neighbors as you are leaving. Warn them if you are aware of an escape route that is blocked.
    • Call family members who were staying at other homes to inform them where you are going.
    • Call your out of state contact to inform them you are heading for the safe location you have given them earlier.
    • When you have reached your destination, gather all your family members to that location.

    Survival in a Vehicle

    This is very dangerous and should only be done in an extreme emergency, but you can survive a firestorm if you stay in your car. Outrunning a firestorm on foot is almost always impossible.

    • Roll up windows and close air vents. Drive slowly with headlights on. Watch for other vehicles and pedestrians. Do not drive through heavy smoke.
    • If you are forced to stop, park away from trees and brush. Turn headlights on and ignition off. Roll up windows and close air vents.
    • Get on the floor and cover up with a blanket or coat.
    • Breathe through a cloth.
    • Stay in the vehicle until the main fire passes.
    • Stay in the car! Do not run! Be prepared for the temperature to dramatically increase and for air currents, caused by the fire, to rock the car. Gas tanks can explode but rarely do unless they are punctured.

    If You Are Trapped at Home

    Stay calm. As the fire front approaches, go inside the house. You can survive a fast-moving wildfire, but this should always be a last resort and never your first choice!

    • Close all windows and exterior doors
    • Close all interior doors.
    • Go to the center of the house.
    • Stuff towels or blankets under the door to help prevent smoke from entering the room.
    • Lie on the floor and cover up with a blanket. A wool blanket is best as it will take longer to ignite.
    • Breathe through a wet cloth

    What to do After a Wildfire

    • Check the roof immediately. Put out any fires, sparks or embers.
    • Check the attic for hidden burning or smoldering sparks.
    • Put out any small remaining brush fires.
    • The water you put into your pool, hot tub, or water storage barrels can be siphoned to provide water if the electricity is off and your well isn’t working or if community water supplies are interrupted. You can also connect a hose to the outlet on your water heater for added water supply.
    • Rake any areas that appear to be smoldering and extinguish any embers you find.
    • Check the inside of your home for any embers that may have entered.
    • For several hours after the fire, maintain a fire watch by walking around your home inside and out, checking for any new hot spots.

    It is so important to research the risk of wildfire in the area where you live. We have lived in our community for 20 years and have not seen a wildfire here, except for grass fires on neighboring farms that were quickly put out by our fire department. No headlines here.

    But those who have lived in our town longer than we have remember a fire that swept through the river bottom areas that adjoin our town (less than a mile from our neighborhood), which created real fear and panic that it would spread to neighborhoods and burn the city.

    So, even if there is not a recent memory of such events, that does not mean the danger is diminished, but may in fact mean the risk has quietly grown worse with years of new undergrowth in wilderness areas, while residential areas have encroached deeper into that wilderness.

    The time to clear a fire break between our home and the path of a wildfire is now. Preparing home and family must also be done now, and not later. At its root, this takes spiritual as well intellectual commitment. As an American evangelist once said: “Heaven is a prepared place, for a prepared people.”

    Like judgment day, a wildfire emergency offers no postponements, and no deferments. When smoke and flames approach, it is too late to do any more than implement the preparations we have already put in place, keep a cool head, and trust in the Lord.

Create a Family Plan

  • Teach children about fire safety. Keep matches out of their reach.
  • Teach older children to use a fire extinguisher.
  • Teach your family to have a bucket of sand or water nearby when barbecuing, using tools or toys that create sparks, or when using fireworks.
  • Post fire emergency telephone numbers.
  • Plan several escape routes away from your home — by car and by foot — and practice them as a family.
  • Review with your family how officials will warn you if there is danger.
  • Create a plan in case you are not at home when the emergency arises, and your children need to evacuate.
  • Teach your family about the importance of keeping your property clean to help prevent fires.
  • Plan two exits from your home in case doors or windows are blocked by an exterior fire. Practice evacuating using both exits.
  • Practice evacuating your home in the middle of the night.
  • Plan how your family will stay in touch if you are separated by a wildfire. All family members should know the name and phone number for your out-of-state contact.
  • Choose a meeting place outside your neighborhood in case you can’t return home. Hold a drill to practice gathering at this location.
  • Post emergency telephone numbers by every phone and teach your children how and when to use them.

Create a Neighborhood Plan

Talk to your neighbors about what they are doing now to prepare for the fire season and how they might be able to respond to fire reports in the area. There may be things you can do together to prevent the spread of fire, and to survive if one occurs.

  • Gather and distribute a list of home and cell phone numbers for emergencies.
  • Decide on a channel to use on walkie-talkies to communicate during a crisis.
  • Identify potential fire hazards.
  • Determine which hazards can be corrected by working together.
  • Notify the proper authorities to correct the problem.
  • Identify roadways which are blocked or poorly marked. During a fire the line down the center of the road may be your only guide. If roads need attention notify the city or county authorities.
  • Create a plan for how the neighborhood could work together after a wildfire. Make a list of your neighbors’ skills, such as medical, construction or technical.
  • Consider how you could help neighbors who have special needs such as seniors or people with disabilities.
  • Make plans to take care of children who may be on their own if their parents can’t get home.
  • Make a list of neighbors with heavy equipment and other fire-fighting tools.
  • Develop a neighborhood plan for things that need to be done.
  • Develop a neighborhood phone tree.
  • Plan a neighborhood meeting with the fire department to have questions answered and to get advice.

Create a Safety Zone around Your Home

Design and landscape your home with wildfire safety in mind. All vegetation is fuel for a wildfire, though some trees and shrubs are more flammable than others. The greater the distance between your home and the vegetation, the greater your protection.

You can take steps now to reduce the potential for disaster. Homes built in pine forests should have a minimum safety zone of 100 feet. Fire spreads very quickly uphill. Homes built on a steep slope therefore, will require additional protection. The steeper the slope, the more open space you will need to protect your home. All other homes should have a 30-foot safety zone around them.

  • Move shrubs and other landscaping away from the sides of the house.
  • Cut and water lawns often.
  • Prune branches and shrubs to allow for 15 feet between vegetation and chimneys and stove pipes.
  • Prune tree limbs 15 feet above the ground.
  • Prune tree limbs so they don’t overhang the roof.
  • Replace highly flammable vegetation such as pine, eucalyptus, junipers and firs with less flammable varieties. If in doubt, ask
  • Call your local fire department or landscape professional for suggestions.
  • Remove vines from the walls of your house, outbuildings and garden walls.
  • Remove all dead tree branches from the ground-level up (these act as ladder fuels for the approaching fire).
  • Clear the area of leaves, brush, and fallen limbs.
  • Remove debris from under sun decks and porches.
  • Replace wooden decks with non-combustible materials such as concrete, brick, rock, or man-made materials. Building a deck structure at ground level will eliminate the danger of a fire starting under a deck.
  • Use non-combustible patio furniture and covers.
  • Adding a brick or rock wall around your property will help prevent a grass fire from threatening your home.
  • Patios and pools are also great improvements in a 30-foot safety zone.
  • When possible, install electrical lines underground.
  • If you notice branches around power lines, ask the power company to clear them.
  • Avoid using bark and wood chip mulch.
  • Stack firewood 100 feet away and uphill from any structure.
  • Store combustible or flammable materials in approved safety containers away from your home.
  • Keep the gas grill and propane tank at least 15 feet from any structure. Clear an area 10 feet around the grill.
  • Clear at least a 10-foot area around propane tanks.
  • Dispose of newspapers. Do not allow them to stack up.
  • Place stove, fireplace and grill ashes in a metal bucket far from structures. Soak with water.
  • Have garden hoses that are long enough to reach any area of your home and other structures on your property.

When Wildfire Threatens

If you are warned that a wildfire is threatening your area, listen to your radio for reports and evacuation information. Follow the instructions of local officials immediately. While you wait for the order to evacuate:

  • Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape. Shut the doors, but do not lock them, and roll up windows. Leave the key in the ignition or make sure it is in your pocket at all times. Close garage windows and doors, but leave them unlocked. Disconnect automatic garage door openers, just in case the electricity goes out.
  • Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape. Shut the doors, but do not lock them, and roll up windows. Leave the key in the ignition or make sure it is in your pocket at all times. Close garage windows and doors, but leave them unlocked. Disconnect automatic garage door openers, just in case the electricity goes out.
  • Gather pets into one room, making them easy to find when it is time to leave.
  • Evacuate large animals, such as horses, to a safe location.
  • Arrange temporary housing at a friend’s home outside the threatened area.
  • Notify your out-of-state emergency contact of your plans and give them the phone number and address of the place you will evacuate to.
  • Load your 72-hour kits and important family possessions in your car.
  • Place pet supplies and leashes in the car.
  • Place maps in the car with at least two evacuation routes clearly marked.
  • Change into protective clothing including long pants, long-sleeved shirt, heavy socks and sturdy shoes.
  • Have hand towels or bandanas ready for each member of the family.
  • Contact your neighbors to make sure they have heard the warnings.
  • Close all windows and vents.
  • Move flammable furniture into the center of the home away from windows and sliding-glass doors.
  • Move all flammable patio furniture indoors.
  • Turn on a light in each room and also your outdoor lights, to increase the visibility of your home in heavy smoke.

If Advised to Evacuate, Do It Immediately

  • Wet the towels or bandanas you have set aside and take them with you. Holding these over your nose will help you breath in a smoky environment.
  • Lock your home.
  • Call you neighbors as you are leaving. Warn them if you are aware of an escape route that is blocked.
  • Call family members who were staying at other homes to inform them where you are going.
  • Call your out of state contact to inform them you are heading for the safe location you have given them earlier.
  • When you have reached your destination, gather all your family members to that location.

Survival in a Vehicle

This is very dangerous and should only be done in an extreme emergency, but you can survive a firestorm if you stay in your car. Outrunning a firestorm on foot is almost always impossible.

  • Roll up windows and close air vents. Drive slowly with headlights on. Watch for other vehicles and pedestrians. Do not drive through heavy smoke.
  • If you are forced to stop, park away from trees and brush. Turn headlights on and ignition off. Roll up windows and close air vents.
  • Get on the floor and cover up with a blanket or coat.
  • Breathe through a cloth.
  • Stay in the vehicle until the main fire passes.
  • Stay in the car! Do not run! Be prepared for the temperature to dramatically increase and for air currents, caused by the fire, to rock the car. Gas tanks can explode but rarely do unless they are punctured.

If You Are Trapped at Home

Stay calm. As the fire front approaches, go inside the house. You can survive a fast-moving wildfire, but this should always be a last resort and never your first choice!

  • Close all windows and exterior doors
  • Close all interior doors.
  • Go to the center of the house.
  • Stuff towels or blankets under the door to help prevent smoke from entering the room.
  • Lie on the floor and cover up with a blanket. A wool blanket is best as it will take longer to ignite.
  • Breathe through a wet cloth

What to do After a Wildfire

  • Check the roof immediately. Put out any fires, sparks or embers.
  • Check the attic for hidden burning or smoldering sparks.
  • Put out any small remaining brush fires.
  • The water you put into your pool, hot tub, or water storage barrels can be siphoned to provide water if the electricity is off and your well isn’t working or if community water supplies are interrupted. You can also connect a hose to the outlet on your water heater for added water supply.
  • Rake any areas that appear to be smoldering and extinguish any embers you find.
  • Check the inside of your home for any embers that may have entered.
  • For several hours after the fire, maintain a fire watch by walking around your home inside and out, checking for any new hot spots.

It is so important to research the risk of wildfire in the area where you live. We have lived in our community for 20 years and have not seen a wildfire here, except for grass fires on neighboring farms that were quickly put out by our fire department. No headlines here.

But those who have lived in our town longer than we have remember a fire that swept through the river bottom areas that adjoin our town (less than a mile from our neighborhood), which created real fear and panic that it would spread to neighborhoods and burn the city.

So, even if there is not a recent memory of such events, that does not mean the danger is diminished, but may in fact mean the risk has quietly grown worse with years of new undergrowth in wilderness areas, while residential areas have encroached deeper into that wilderness.

The time to clear a fire break between our home and the path of a wildfire is now. Preparing home and family must also be done now, and not later. At its root, this takes spiritual as well intellectual commitment. As an American evangelist once said: “Heaven is a prepared place, for a prepared people.”

Like judgment day, a wildfire emergency offers no postponements, and no deferments. When smoke and flames approach, it is too late to do any more than implement the preparations we have already put in place, keep a cool head, and trust in the Lord.

Before Wildfire Threatens

  • Have a building professional inspect your property and offer recommendations for reducing the wildfire risk.
  • Have a landscaping professional inspect your property and make recommendations for reducing your risks.
  • Regularly clean roof and gutters.
  • Inspect and clean chimneys at least once a year. Make sure you inspect the damper and spark arrester as well.
  • Install half-inch mesh screen beneath porches, decks, floor areas and the home itself. Also, screen openings to floors, roof and attic.
  • Install a smoke/carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home, especially outside bedrooms. Test batteries monthly and change them once a year. Changing them on the same day each year will help you remember. Choose a day such as a birthday or holiday.
  • Purchase at least one good, large, fire extinguisher (ABC type)
  • Purchase or organize items that can be used as fire fighting tools: a rake, axe, handsaw or chainsaw, hose, bucket, shovel and bag of sand.
  • Enclose eaves and overhangs.
  • Cover house vents with fourth-inch, or smaller, wire mesh. Any attic vent, louver, attic fan, or other opening may allow embers and flaming debris to enter your home and ignite.
  • Use fire-resistant siding and roofing materials. If you currently have a shake roof or wood siding, replace it as soon as possible. Shake roofing and wood siding will allow your home to be engulfed in a very short time.
  • Choose safety glass for windows and sliding glass doors. Radiated heat passing through a windowpane can ignite combustible materials inside. Dual- or triple-pane thermal glass, fire resistant shutters, and drapes all help reduce the risk.
  • Consider installing protective shutters or heavy fire-resistant drapes.
  • Prepare for water storage. After a fire, water supplies may be limited. Create and maintain a small pond, well or pool and store extra water.
  • Install freeze-proof exterior water faucets on at least two sides of your home and near other structures on the property. If you cannot do this make sure you have the materials available to wrap and protect your pipes so in the event of a fire you don’t find yourself without water.
  • Consider purchasing a generator to provide power after the fire has passed. Electric service will probably be down for several days.
  • Make sure your house number is clearly visible from the road, making it easier for fire fighters to find your home quickly.
  • Purchase escape ladders for second floor bedrooms.
  • Make a list of the phone numbers, both landline and cell, for your neighbors. We have friends who were involved in the last

    • San Diego wildfire and they never received an evacuation warning, but they noticed the flames approaching and called their neighbors’ cell phones, and knocked on their doors as they were evacuating. Thanks to their efforts everyone on their block made it out safely.

    Create a Family Plan

    • Teach children about fire safety. Keep matches out of their reach.
    • Teach older children to use a fire extinguisher.
    • Teach your family to have a bucket of sand or water nearby when barbecuing, using tools or toys that create sparks, or when using fireworks.
    • Post fire emergency telephone numbers.
    • Plan several escape routes away from your home — by car and by foot — and practice them as a family.
    • Review with your family how officials will warn you if there is danger.
    • Create a plan in case you are not at home when the emergency arises, and your children need to evacuate.
    • Teach your family about the importance of keeping your property clean to help prevent fires.
    • Plan two exits from your home in case doors or windows are blocked by an exterior fire. Practice evacuating using both exits.
    • Practice evacuating your home in the middle of the night.
    • Plan how your family will stay in touch if you are separated by a wildfire. All family members should know the name and phone number for your out-of-state contact.
    • Choose a meeting place outside your neighborhood in case you can’t return home. Hold a drill to practice gathering at this location.
    • Post emergency telephone numbers by every phone and teach your children how and when to use them.

    Create a Neighborhood Plan

    Talk to your neighbors about what they are doing now to prepare for the fire season and how they might be able to respond to fire reports in the area. There may be things you can do together to prevent the spread of fire, and to survive if one occurs.

    • Gather and distribute a list of home and cell phone numbers for emergencies.
    • Decide on a channel to use on walkie-talkies to communicate during a crisis.
    • Identify potential fire hazards.
    • Determine which hazards can be corrected by working together.
    • Notify the proper authorities to correct the problem.
    • Identify roadways which are blocked or poorly marked. During a fire the line down the center of the road may be your only guide. If roads need attention notify the city or county authorities.
    • Create a plan for how the neighborhood could work together after a wildfire. Make a list of your neighbors’ skills, such as medical, construction or technical.
    • Consider how you could help neighbors who have special needs such as seniors or people with disabilities.
    • Make plans to take care of children who may be on their own if their parents can’t get home.
    • Make a list of neighbors with heavy equipment and other fire-fighting tools.
    • Develop a neighborhood plan for things that need to be done.
    • Develop a neighborhood phone tree.
    • Plan a neighborhood meeting with the fire department to have questions answered and to get advice.

    Create a Safety Zone around Your Home

    Design and landscape your home with wildfire safety in mind. All vegetation is fuel for a wildfire, though some trees and shrubs are more flammable than others. The greater the distance between your home and the vegetation, the greater your protection.

    You can take steps now to reduce the potential for disaster. Homes built in pine forests should have a minimum safety zone of 100 feet. Fire spreads very quickly uphill. Homes built on a steep slope therefore, will require additional protection. The steeper the slope, the more open space you will need to protect your home. All other homes should have a 30-foot safety zone around them.

    • Move shrubs and other landscaping away from the sides of the house.
    • Cut and water lawns often.
    • Prune branches and shrubs to allow for 15 feet between vegetation and chimneys and stove pipes.
    • Prune tree limbs 15 feet above the ground.
    • Prune tree limbs so they don’t overhang the roof.
    • Replace highly flammable vegetation such as pine, eucalyptus, junipers and firs with less flammable varieties. If in doubt, ask
    • Call your local fire department or landscape professional for suggestions.
    • Remove vines from the walls of your house, outbuildings and garden walls.
    • Remove all dead tree branches from the ground-level up (these act as ladder fuels for the approaching fire).
    • Clear the area of leaves, brush, and fallen limbs.
    • Remove debris from under sun decks and porches.
    • Replace wooden decks with non-combustible materials such as concrete, brick, rock, or man-made materials. Building a deck structure at ground level will eliminate the danger of a fire starting under a deck.
    • Use non-combustible patio furniture and covers.
    • Adding a brick or rock wall around your property will help prevent a grass fire from threatening your home.
    • Patios and pools are also great improvements in a 30-foot safety zone.
    • When possible, install electrical lines underground.
    • If you notice branches around power lines, ask the power company to clear them.
    • Avoid using bark and wood chip mulch.
    • Stack firewood 100 feet away and uphill from any structure.
    • Store combustible or flammable materials in approved safety containers away from your home.
    • Keep the gas grill and propane tank at least 15 feet from any structure. Clear an area 10 feet around the grill.
    • Clear at least a 10-foot area around propane tanks.
    • Dispose of newspapers. Do not allow them to stack up.
    • Place stove, fireplace and grill ashes in a metal bucket far from structures. Soak with water.
    • Have garden hoses that are long enough to reach any area of your home and other structures on your property.

    When Wildfire Threatens

    If you are warned that a wildfire is threatening your area, listen to your radio for reports and evacuation information. Follow the instructions of local officials immediately. While you wait for the order to evacuate:

    • Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape. Shut the doors, but do not lock them, and roll up windows. Leave the key in the ignition or make sure it is in your pocket at all times. Close garage windows and doors, but leave them unlocked. Disconnect automatic garage door openers, just in case the electricity goes out.
    • Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape. Shut the doors, but do not lock them, and roll up windows. Leave the key in the ignition or make sure it is in your pocket at all times. Close garage windows and doors, but leave them unlocked. Disconnect automatic garage door openers, just in case the electricity goes out.
    • Gather pets into one room, making them easy to find when it is time to leave.
    • Evacuate large animals, such as horses, to a safe location.
    • Arrange temporary housing at a friend’s home outside the threatened area.
    • Notify your out-of-state emergency contact of your plans and give them the phone number and address of the place you will evacuate to.
    • Load your 72-hour kits and important family possessions in your car.
    • Place pet supplies and leashes in the car.
    • Place maps in the car with at least two evacuation routes clearly marked.
    • Change into protective clothing including long pants, long-sleeved shirt, heavy socks and sturdy shoes.
    • Have hand towels or bandanas ready for each member of the family.
    • Contact your neighbors to make sure they have heard the warnings.
    • Close all windows and vents.
    • Move flammable furniture into the center of the home away from windows and sliding-glass doors.
    • Move all flammable patio furniture indoors.
    • Turn on a light in each room and also your outdoor lights, to increase the visibility of your home in heavy smoke.

    If Advised to Evacuate, Do It Immediately

    • Wet the towels or bandanas you have set aside and take them with you. Holding these over your nose will help you breath in a smoky environment.
    • Lock your home.
    • Call you neighbors as you are leaving. Warn them if you are aware of an escape route that is blocked.
    • Call family members who were staying at other homes to inform them where you are going.
    • Call your out of state contact to inform them you are heading for the safe location you have given them earlier.
    • When you have reached your destination, gather all your family members to that location.

    Survival in a Vehicle

    This is very dangerous and should only be done in an extreme emergency, but you can survive a firestorm if you stay in your car. Outrunning a firestorm on foot is almost always impossible.

    • Roll up windows and close air vents. Drive slowly with headlights on. Watch for other vehicles and pedestrians. Do not drive through heavy smoke.
    • If you are forced to stop, park away from trees and brush. Turn headlights on and ignition off. Roll up windows and close air vents.
    • Get on the floor and cover up with a blanket or coat.
    • Breathe through a cloth.
    • Stay in the vehicle until the main fire passes.
    • Stay in the car! Do not run! Be prepared for the temperature to dramatically increase and for air currents, caused by the fire, to rock the car. Gas tanks can explode but rarely do unless they are punctured.

    If You Are Trapped at Home

    Stay calm. As the fire front approaches, go inside the house. You can survive a fast-moving wildfire, but this should always be a last resort and never your first choice!

    • Close all windows and exterior doors
    • Close all interior doors.
    • Go to the center of the house.
    • Stuff towels or blankets under the door to help prevent smoke from entering the room.
    • Lie on the floor and cover up with a blanket. A wool blanket is best as it will take longer to ignite.
    • Breathe through a wet cloth

    What to do After a Wildfire

    • Check the roof immediately. Put out any fires, sparks or embers.
    • Check the attic for hidden burning or smoldering sparks.
    • Put out any small remaining brush fires.
    • The water you put into your pool, hot tub, or water storage barrels can be siphoned to provide water if the electricity is off and your well isn’t working or if community water supplies are interrupted. You can also connect a hose to the outlet on your water heater for added water supply.
    • Rake any areas that appear to be smoldering and extinguish any embers you find.
    • Check the inside of your home for any embers that may have entered.
    • For several hours after the fire, maintain a fire watch by walking around your home inside and out, checking for any new hot spots.

    It is so important to research the risk of wildfire in the area where you live. We have lived in our community for 20 years and have not seen a wildfire here, except for grass fires on neighboring farms that were quickly put out by our fire department. No headlines here.

    But those who have lived in our town longer than we have remember a fire that swept through the river bottom areas that adjoin our town (less than a mile from our neighborhood), which created real fear and panic that it would spread to neighborhoods and burn the city.

    So, even if there is not a recent memory of such events, that does not mean the danger is diminished, but may in fact mean the risk has quietly grown worse with years of new undergrowth in wilderness areas, while residential areas have encroached deeper into that wilderness.

    The time to clear a fire break between our home and the path of a wildfire is now. Preparing home and family must also be done now, and not later. At its root, this takes spiritual as well intellectual commitment. As an American evangelist once said: “Heaven is a prepared place, for a prepared people.”

    Like judgment day, a wildfire emergency offers no postponements, and no deferments. When smoke and flames approach, it is too late to do any more than implement the preparations we have already put in place, keep a cool head, and trust in the Lord.

Create a Family Plan

  • Teach children about fire safety. Keep matches out of their reach.
  • Teach older children to use a fire extinguisher.
  • Teach your family to have a bucket of sand or water nearby when barbecuing, using tools or toys that create sparks, or when using fireworks.
  • Post fire emergency telephone numbers.
  • Plan several escape routes away from your home — by car and by foot — and practice them as a family.
  • Review with your family how officials will warn you if there is danger.
  • Create a plan in case you are not at home when the emergency arises, and your children need to evacuate.
  • Teach your family about the importance of keeping your property clean to help prevent fires.
  • Plan two exits from your home in case doors or windows are blocked by an exterior fire. Practice evacuating using both exits.
  • Practice evacuating your home in the middle of the night.
  • Plan how your family will stay in touch if you are separated by a wildfire. All family members should know the name and phone number for your out-of-state contact.
  • Choose a meeting place outside your neighborhood in case you can’t return home. Hold a drill to practice gathering at this location.
  • Post emergency telephone numbers by every phone and teach your children how and when to use them.

Create a Neighborhood Plan

Talk to your neighbors about what they are doing now to prepare for the fire season and how they might be able to respond to fire reports in the area. There may be things you can do together to prevent the spread of fire, and to survive if one occurs.

  • Gather and distribute a list of home and cell phone numbers for emergencies.
  • Decide on a channel to use on walkie-talkies to communicate during a crisis.
  • Identify potential fire hazards.
  • Determine which hazards can be corrected by working together.
  • Notify the proper authorities to correct the problem.
  • Identify roadways which are blocked or poorly marked. During a fire the line down the center of the road may be your only guide. If roads need attention notify the city or county authorities.
  • Create a plan for how the neighborhood could work together after a wildfire. Make a list of your neighbors’ skills, such as medical, construction or technical.
  • Consider how you could help neighbors who have special needs such as seniors or people with disabilities.
  • Make plans to take care of children who may be on their own if their parents can’t get home.
  • Make a list of neighbors with heavy equipment and other fire-fighting tools.
  • Develop a neighborhood plan for things that need to be done.
  • Develop a neighborhood phone tree.
  • Plan a neighborhood meeting with the fire department to have questions answered and to get advice.

Create a Safety Zone around Your Home

Design and landscape your home with wildfire safety in mind. All vegetation is fuel for a wildfire, though some trees and shrubs are more flammable than others. The greater the distance between your home and the vegetation, the greater your protection.

You can take steps now to reduce the potential for disaster. Homes built in pine forests should have a minimum safety zone of 100 feet. Fire spreads very quickly uphill. Homes built on a steep slope therefore, will require additional protection. The steeper the slope, the more open space you will need to protect your home. All other homes should have a 30-foot safety zone around them.

  • Move shrubs and other landscaping away from the sides of the house.
  • Cut and water lawns often.
  • Prune branches and shrubs to allow for 15 feet between vegetation and chimneys and stove pipes.
  • Prune tree limbs 15 feet above the ground.
  • Prune tree limbs so they don’t overhang the roof.
  • Replace highly flammable vegetation such as pine, eucalyptus, junipers and firs with less flammable varieties. If in doubt, ask
  • Call your local fire department or landscape professional for suggestions.
  • Remove vines from the walls of your house, outbuildings and garden walls.
  • Remove all dead tree branches from the ground-level up (these act as ladder fuels for the approaching fire).
  • Clear the area of leaves, brush, and fallen limbs.
  • Remove debris from under sun decks and porches.
  • Replace wooden decks with non-combustible materials such as concrete, brick, rock, or man-made materials. Building a deck structure at ground level will eliminate the danger of a fire starting under a deck.
  • Use non-combustible patio furniture and covers.
  • Adding a brick or rock wall around your property will help prevent a grass fire from threatening your home.
  • Patios and pools are also great improvements in a 30-foot safety zone.
  • When possible, install electrical lines underground.
  • If you notice branches around power lines, ask the power company to clear them.
  • Avoid using bark and wood chip mulch.
  • Stack firewood 100 feet away and uphill from any structure.
  • Store combustible or flammable materials in approved safety containers away from your home.
  • Keep the gas grill and propane tank at least 15 feet from any structure. Clear an area 10 feet around the grill.
  • Clear at least a 10-foot area around propane tanks.
  • Dispose of newspapers. Do not allow them to stack up.
  • Place stove, fireplace and grill ashes in a metal bucket far from structures. Soak with water.
  • Have garden hoses that are long enough to reach any area of your home and other structures on your property.

When Wildfire Threatens

If you are warned that a wildfire is threatening your area, listen to your radio for reports and evacuation information. Follow the instructions of local officials immediately. While you wait for the order to evacuate:

  • Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape. Shut the doors, but do not lock them, and roll up windows. Leave the key in the ignition or make sure it is in your pocket at all times. Close garage windows and doors, but leave them unlocked. Disconnect automatic garage door openers, just in case the electricity goes out.
  • Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape. Shut the doors, but do not lock them, and roll up windows. Leave the key in the ignition or make sure it is in your pocket at all times. Close garage windows and doors, but leave them unlocked. Disconnect automatic garage door openers, just in case the electricity goes out.
  • Gather pets into one room, making them easy to find when it is time to leave.
  • Evacuate large animals, such as horses, to a safe location.
  • Arrange temporary housing at a friend’s home outside the threatened area.
  • Notify your out-of-state emergency contact of your plans and give them the phone number and address of the place you will evacuate to.
  • Load your 72-hour kits and important family possessions in your car.
  • Place pet supplies and leashes in the car.
  • Place maps in the car with at least two evacuation routes clearly marked.
  • Change into protective clothing including long pants, long-sleeved shirt, heavy socks and sturdy shoes.
  • Have hand towels or bandanas ready for each member of the family.
  • Contact your neighbors to make sure they have heard the warnings.
  • Close all windows and vents.
  • Move flammable furniture into the center of the home away from windows and sliding-glass doors.
  • Move all flammable patio furniture indoors.
  • Turn on a light in each room and also your outdoor lights, to increase the visibility of your home in heavy smoke.

If Advised to Evacuate, Do It Immediately

  • Wet the towels or bandanas you have set aside and take them with you. Holding these over your nose will help you breath in a smoky environment.
  • Lock your home.
  • Call you neighbors as you are leaving. Warn them if you are aware of an escape route that is blocked.
  • Call family members who were staying at other homes to inform them where you are going.
  • Call your out of state contact to inform them you are heading for the safe location you have given them earlier.
  • When you have reached your destination, gather all your family members to that location.

Survival in a Vehicle

This is very dangerous and should only be done in an extreme emergency, but you can survive a firestorm if you stay in your car. Outrunning a firestorm on foot is almost always impossible.

  • Roll up windows and close air vents. Drive slowly with headlights on. Watch for other vehicles and pedestrians. Do not drive through heavy smoke.
  • If you are forced to stop, park away from trees and brush. Turn headlights on and ignition off. Roll up windows and close air vents.
  • Get on the floor and cover up with a blanket or coat.
  • Breathe through a cloth.
  • Stay in the vehicle until the main fire passes.
  • Stay in the car! Do not run! Be prepared for the temperature to dramatically increase and for air currents, caused by the fire, to rock the car. Gas tanks can explode but rarely do unless they are punctured.

If You Are Trapped at Home

Stay calm. As the fire front approaches, go inside the house. You can survive a fast-moving wildfire, but this should always be a last resort and never your first choice!

  • Close all windows and exterior doors
  • Close all interior doors.
  • Go to the center of the house.
  • Stuff towels or blankets under the door to help prevent smoke from entering the room.
  • Lie on the floor and cover up with a blanket. A wool blanket is best as it will take longer to ignite.
  • Breathe through a wet cloth

What to do After a Wildfire

  • Check the roof immediately. Put out any fires, sparks or embers.
  • Check the attic for hidden burning or smoldering sparks.
  • Put out any small remaining brush fires.
  • The water you put into your pool, hot tub, or water storage barrels can be siphoned to provide water if the electricity is off and your well isn’t working or if community water supplies are interrupted. You can also connect a hose to the outlet on your water heater for added water supply.
  • Rake any areas that appear to be smoldering and extinguish any embers you find.
  • Check the inside of your home for any embers that may have entered.
  • For several hours after the fire, maintain a fire watch by walking around your home inside and out, checking for any new hot spots.

It is so important to research the risk of wildfire in the area where you live. We have lived in our community for 20 years and have not seen a wildfire here, except for grass fires on neighboring farms that were quickly put out by our fire department. No headlines here.

But those who have lived in our town longer than we have remember a fire that swept through the river bottom areas that adjoin our town (less than a mile from our neighborhood), which created real fear and panic that it would spread to neighborhoods and burn the city.

So, even if there is not a recent memory of such events, that does not mean the danger is diminished, but may in fact mean the risk has quietly grown worse with years of new undergrowth in wilderness areas, while residential areas have encroached deeper into that wilderness.

The time to clear a fire break between our home and the path of a wildfire is now. Preparing home and family must also be done now, and not later. At its root, this takes spiritual as well intellectual commitment. As an American evangelist once said: “Heaven is a prepared place, for a prepared people.”

Like judgment day, a wildfire emergency offers no postponements, and no deferments. When smoke and flames approach, it is too late to do any more than implement the preparations we have already put in place, keep a cool head, and trust in the Lord.

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