Preparing for a Wildfire: Pre-Evacuation Plan

Wildfire burning in a forest behind a neighborhood

With the summer heat and dryness comes the wildfire season. Wildfires are breaking out across the US and countries around the world. If you’re in an area that is anticipating a wildfire or notice any wildfire warning signs, get prepared early using a pre-evacuation plan. 

Please note that once your area issues an evacuation order, you should leave immediately, regardless of the progress you have made in this pre-evacuation checklist. Early evacuation is crucial. All pre-evacuation planning and procedures should be done well in advance. 

Pre-Evacuation Procedures 

This plan will outline the pre-evacuation steps you can take to increase the chances of your home surviving a wildfire. 

Inside Your Home

Wildfire evacuation bag

Have your ready-to-load evacuation bag or emergency supply kit ready to go. An emergency kit should include food, water, medications, first aid supplies, N95 dust masks, flashlights, batteries, important documents, cell phone chargers, etc. 

Ensure your Wildfire Action Plan is prepared and each family member is familiar with it. Our Grab + Go Box provides you with a pre-made detailed Action Plan. 

If your community has an emergency evacuation plan, review the details so you’re prepared to enact it if needed. 

Have a plan that includes multiple exit strategies for leaving your house, determine the best evacuation route for leaving the general location and alternate routes, and identify a safe place to go after evacuating. 

Establish a communication plan for contacting family members, emergency responders, and other involved parties. Keep the number of an emergency contact person in your evacuation bag. 

Close all doors (including doggy doors) and windows, but don’t lock them in case firefighters need to get in. 

Remove flammable objects near windows, such as lightweight curtains and window shades. Also, if you have metal shutters or fire-resistant drapes and blinds, close them.

Window with metal shutters

Move furniture and other flammable objects to the middle of the room, away from doors and windows

Shut off natural gas at the meter; turn off pilot lights.

If you have a fireplace, close the fire damper.

Turn off the air conditioning.

Leave your lights on to guide firefighters to your house in case of dense smoke.

Outside Your Home

Objects on deck behind house

Bring all flammable objects inside your house or garage (patio furniture, sports equipment, toys, trash cans, door mats, etc.). If you have a pool, you can place some objects in it. 

Shut off propane tanks and relocate propane BBQ appliances to a place away from your house, deck, garage, and other structures. 

Prep for firefighters. Connect all garden hoses to their water valves. Attach nozzles and set to “spray.” Fill buckets of water and trash cans and place them around the house in areas visible to firefighters. 

Don’t leave any water running, as this could affect critical water pressure. 

Turn on exterior lights to make your home more visible to firefighters.

Turn outdoor house light on

Place a non-combustible ladder against your home, allowing firefighters quick access to your roof.

Prepare your vehicle. Ensure your gas tank is full. Back your vehicle into your driveway. Load your emergency supply kit into the vehicle. Keep all car doors and windows closed. Have the keys on your person at all times. 

Block exterior vents (ground & attic) with pre-cut plywood at least 1/2” thick.

Monitor your property and stay alert to the fire situation. Don’t wait for an evacuation order if you feel unsafe or threatened. Instead, trust your instinct and go!

Other Considerations

Check-in with your neighbors – make sure they are preparing for evacuation. 

Keep your pets nearby.

Consider moving farm animals to a safe location early or arranging transport. 

Remember, early evacuation is the safest. Wildfires can spread quickly, and you may not have much warning or time to prepare. So prepare early and anticipate having to evacuate. Stay calm and stay safe!