What To Do During a Wildfire in California

Fire Loss | November 7, 2023

The difference between wildfire season and non-wildfire season used to be distinguishable, but that is not so much the case anymore. If the last few years have shown us anything, it’s that California residents have to be ready for wildfires at any time. Here, we want to review some of the basic steps to follow if a wildfire is in your area.

Get a Kit Ready For a Fire

Cal Fire presents wonderful information to the public about getting prepared for the possibility of a wildfire. The information presented by the agency includes creating a defensible boundary around your home and how to harden your home to make it resistant to embers in the air. The agency also recommends creating a wildfire action plan and getting a wildfire kit ready. You should have your wildfire kit ready to go all year round.

Your wildfire kit, also referred to as your “go bag,” should be placed in a location where you know exactly where to get it if you have to leave your home quickly. In fact, some people have more than one go bag so that they can have one in their vehicle as well. We encourage you to browse the items for the wildfire kit recommended by Cal Fire and begin to assemble your kit as soon as possible.

Follow Government Official Instructions Closely

If you are in an area of California that is susceptible to wildfires, which is most of the state now, they need to always be ready to go. Wildfires typically do not sneak up on people, though they can. Usually, though, you will have some warning that you may have to leave your residential area.

If there is a wildfire in your area, you need to stay tuned to all local government sources of information. If your area receives an evacuation order, you need to heed the order and get to a safe location. Usually, government officials will have shelters ready for evacuees. We encourage you to go to the shelter or another safe location outside of any fire danger zone.

Be ready and prepared to evacuate in the case of a wildfire in California.

Evacuate When Ordered

Do not wait to evacuate after the order has come from government officials. Waiting could be detrimental to your safety and the safety of your family.

If an evacuation order comes down, you should follow the evacuation route laid forth by local officials. Even if you think you know a quicker route, follow the route government officials ask you to take. In many cases, there are road blockages you may not be aware of, or emergency personnel could be using other routes to help fight the fire. You do not want to get caught behind the fire or inside the emergency vehicle traffic lanes.

If you have time, grab important documents, but if you do not, you should just evacuate as soon as possible to ensure your safety.

If You Are Trapped

If you get trapped near a wildfire, there are various steps that you can take. First, you need to dial 911 and advise officials of your situation. Make sure that officials know exactly where you are, and describe your surroundings and approximate location to the best of your ability.

Whether you are in your vehicle, on foot, or in your home, if you become trapped near a fire, you need to stay calm. Get to an area clear of vegetation if possible. Follow instructions from 911 dispatchers if you are able to get through.

If you are unable to evacuate from your home, officials recommend staying inside the house, staying away from outside walls and windows, and keeping all doors and windows closed but unlocked. We should fill all sinks and tubs, as well as other containers, with cold water. Wait for emergency personnel to get to you.