California Wildfire Preparedness: Pre-Evacuation Checklist

Posted On: November 12th, 2019

Living in California, it’s vital that you have an established wildfire preparedness and emergency plan. If you see a wildfire coming, or if there are reports of them happening in your area, what do you do? Here is a comprehensive pre-evacuation checklist to help you keep your family safe in the event of an emergency.


Importance of Wildfire Preparedness in California

It’s important to know the danger of wildfires, wherever you live in California. A wildfire is classified broadly as any unwanted or uncontrolled fire, usually starting in areas of vegetation. They can be crawling fires, where they burn on vegetation on the ground, or ladder or canopy fires, burning up trees for fuel.

As these fires occur in forests and other areas dense with vegetation, they can travel quickly. If you’re at risk of a wildfire, you’ll need to be able to move quickly to get out of the path of the fire. That’s why it’s so important to be prepared, in the event that a fire happens.


Family Pre-Evacuation Steps

The last thing you want is for you or one of your family to be injured in the event of a wildfire. What should you do to prevent this happening? Here are some steps to ensure you’ll all come out safe.

  • Have an evacuation plan: It’s hard to express just how important this is. If a wildfire is coming your way, what are you going to do? Start a wildfire preparedness plan, and ensure your whole family knows about it. Even better, make sure you practice the plan. Do test runs, seeing how quickly you can prepare and get out in the event of a fire.
  • Put together an emergency kit: An emergency kit will cover all your basic needs in the event of a fire, so you can stay safe until the danger has passed. There are a few things you will need in your kit. This includes bottled water, canned food, wind up flashlights and radios, a first aid kit, cash, and important family documents. You can add additional things to the kit too, such as warm blankets, a change of clothes, and basic activities for children. Remember, you will need to be able to carry this kit with you, so ensure that you will be able to transport it easily.
  • Learn basic first aid: If anything should happen to you or your family, you need to be prepared. That means that you’ll need to learn basic first aid. Learn a few basic measures, such as how to treat a burn, so you’ll be ready if anything should happen.


Home Pre-Evacuation Steps

There are a couple of things you can do to ensure you home is safer during a wildfire. Do these things now before the threat of a fire to keep prepared:

  • Make your home fire resistant: There are several ways you can make your home more fire resistant, such as by using higher rated fire resistant materials for your roof, or by changing the paints used to fire resistant ones. If you’re making renovations, look at making these changes so you can improve the safety of your home.
  • Cut back your vegetation: If your yard is looking a little overgrown, now is the time to cut it back. The more vegetation you have, the more likely you are to have a fire in your yard that will reach your home. Trim back any plants, and consider removing any that are very close to the outside of your home.


During a Wildfire

If you’ve heard warnings about wildfires in your area, then you’ll need to be ready to move out. If you have the time, ensure that you do the following:

  • Shut off utilities: It’s important that you turn off your gas, including the pilot light, and your air conditioning before you go to get out. Don’t turn off the electric, though. You’ll need to leave the lights on so firefighters will be able to see if they need to go into your home.
  • Remove flammable objects: It’s vital that you remove flammable objects as far away from the threat of fire as possible. For example, remove all drapes, curtains, and shades from your windows and shut any metal shutters you have. This will help protect your home. Move any flammable furniture, such as sofas, into the middle of the room if you have the time.
  • Shut all windows and doors: Before you go, ensure that you shut all windows and doors, as this will help stop the spread of fire. Ensure that you leave them unlocked so firefighters will be able to get through if needed.
  • Don’t leave water running: If you have things like sprinklers in your home, turn them off before you go. They will affect water pressure which is important if your home needs firefighters to come put out a fire.
  • Move flammable objects in your yard: Anything in your yard that’s a fire hazard needs to be moved. If you have a pool, place items in there. If not, then place the items indoors. This includes loungers, children’s toys, and so on.
  • Fill water buckets: Fill up some buckets with water and place them around the house. Also, attach hoses to spigots before you leave. This makes it quicker and easier to put out fires.
  • Have a ladder available: Get your ladder and place it against the corner of your home. This makes it easier for firefighters to reach higher areas to put out fires.
  • Check on your neighbors: If you have neighbors, ensure they know about the risk and see if they’re preparing to evacuate. This is especially important if they are elderly or vulnerable, so help them out if you can.
  • Move the car: To make a quick exit, move your car so it’s on the driveway and pointing out towards the road. As soon as you are ready, get in the car and evacuate.


It’s vital to be prepared for the event of a wildfire. If you’ve made all the right preparations though, there’s no need to worry. Take some wildfire preparedness steps ahead of time, and have a plan in place. If the alarm does sound, take the above steps and evacuate as soon as possible, to keep you and your family safe.

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