Fire Evacuation Checklist: How to Prepare for Evacuation

California Wildfires History & Statistics
September 30, 2020
Fire-Resistant Building Materials & Home Hardening Techniques
October 28, 2020
Show all

Fire Evacuation Checklist: How to Prepare for Evacuation

California’s devastating wildfires often create very hazardous conditions for local residents. Even if the fires themselves are not expected to hit your area, the resulting smoke and air pollutants are often enough to force evacuations. Unfortunately, many California residents are not properly prepared to face an evacuation order, making an already stressful situation even more difficult.

By preparing an evacuation plan ahead of time, California residents can gain peace of mind, protect their home from potential wildfire damages, and ensure they don’t leave anything important behind. Here’s a fire evacuation checklist and resources to help you prepare for evacuation.

Protect your home from wildfire by installing a Frontline Wildfire Defense exterior sprinkler system. For more information, contact us today for a free consultation.

When to Evacuate

If a wildfire evacuation has been ordered, evacuate immediately. While some evacuation orders may be listed as voluntary and others mandatory, treat all evacuation orders seriously, evacuating for your safety. Pay attention to local notices and heed official orders from law enforcement. Evacuating as early as possible can help to ensure your safety while clearing pathways for firefighters on the roads.

Track fire activity with the Frontline Wildfire Map & Tracker.

How to Prepare for Evacuation

The time to start preparing is before there is an emergency. Waiting until a wildfire evacuation order has been placed and the fires are nearing your home will only result in a panicked evacuation in which you are likely to leave behind important items and documents. Follow these steps to prepare yourself, your home, and your family for a potential wildfire evacuation order:

Create an Evacuation Plan

When a fire evacuation order is placed, time is of the essence. Creating an evacuation plan will ensure you and your family know what to do once it’s time to leave so that you can get to safety as quickly as possible.

An effective wildfire evacuation plan should include a meeting place in a safe area. While you and your family will ideally evacuate together, it’s common for people to become separated in emergency situations, so make sure everyone knows where to go and how to get there in case of emergency.

Check your city or county website for official evacuation routes. You should plan and practice multiple escape routes to prepare for evacuation. Whether there is traffic or fires have made certain routes unsafe, it’s important to have multiple routes in mind in case your first option is not available.

Assemble an Emergency Supply Kit

In severe circumstances, you might not have time to pack before leaving, making it necessary to have an emergency supply kit. Ideally, each member of your family should have an emergency kit that includes the following items:

  • Face coverings
  • Three days of food and water (for family and pets)
  • Prescription medications
  • First-aid supplies
  • Change of clothing
  • Flashlight
  • Map
  • Keys, wallet, and identification
  • Important documents
  • Sanitary supplies

Typically, evacuation orders are given early to allow residents plenty of time to pack and react. However, if you do have to just pick up and go, having an emergency supply kit at the ready will make the evacuation process much easier and less stressful.

Prepare Your Vehicle

An active evacuation is not the time to have car troubles. If you’re anticipating an evacuation order, be sure to fill your car with gas, take it in for a routine inspection, and check your tires for air and tread. Make sure your emergency kit is packed in your car, and park your car in the driveway facing the road so that you can jump in and go when necessary.

If you do not drive or don’t own a car, make other arrangements ahead of time. Consider asking a neighbor in advance if they are willing to take you with them when they evacuate.

Take Pictures

If you return to a home that has been damaged by a wildfire, you’ll need to file an insurance claim to cover the damages. To back up your claim, you may need photos of everything you claim to have lost.

Of course, you won’t have time to do this during an active evacuation. Just be sure to take detailed photos of the interior and exterior of your home, as well as all of your most important and valuable possessions.

What to Do When Under an Active Evacuation Order

Once a wildfire evacuation order is placed, it’s important to act quickly and calmly to get yourself and your family to safety without any hiccups.

  • Dress Appropriately. Even if your area is still relatively safe, you may have to drive through a more dangerous area. Be sure to wear a face covering, long sleeve shirt, long pants, a hat, eye coverings, and heavy shoes to protect yourself against burning embers and high temperatures.
  • Pack Your Things. Make sure your emergency kit is packed in your car, and be sure to grab your pets and pet supplies. If time allows, consider packing other lightweight valuables, such as personal computers, hard drives, chargers, family photos, and similar items.
  • Prepare Your Home. Shut off all utilities, close windows and doors (leave them unlocked), move flammable furniture and furnishings away from windows and doors, bring in flammable outdoor furniture, place water buckets around the house for firefighters (if time allows), and turn on your home’s exterior lights.
  • Activate Sprinkler System. If you have an exterior sprinkler system like the Frontline Wildfire Defense system, activate it. Proactive hydration before embers arrive has been proven to prevent ignition. You should activate your system during a red flag event, if there’s smoke in the air, or if there’s a known fire within ~20 miles. The Frontline system allows you to activate your system remotely via the Frontline app, so you can already be evacuating safely.

After Evacuating

After evacuating and reaching a safe location, there are a few more things you can do to prepare for the aftermath of the wildfires:

  • Insurance. If applicable, file an insurance claim. Many homeowners and wildfire insurance policies offer reimbursement for living expenses if you are forcefully displaced from your home due to a wildfire.
  • Stay Put. While it can be tempting to return as soon as it looks like things are clearing up, stay put until local officials issue a statement indicating that it is safe to return.
  • Return Home Only When Safe. After receiving the order that it is safe, return to your home and carefully inspect it for damages. Evaluate the area for potential hazards, such as fallen trees, damaged utilities, broken water pipes, etc. If your home or property is damaged, you can file another insurance claim to cover property damages.
  • Evaluate Damage. After returning to your home, you can evaluate the damages to determine if you need to file a claim for property damages.

Protect Your Home with Frontline Wildfire Defense

The Frontline Wildfire Defense exterior sprinkler system can protect your home from wildfire with:

  • Remote activation for 24/7 protection from anywhere
  • Built-in battery backup and satellite communication
  • Environmentally friendly, biodegradable Class A foam
  • Municipal, well, pool, and emergency water tank supply options
  • Wildfire tracking and remote system activation using the Frontline app

For more information on how Frontline Wildfire Defense can help safeguard your home, contact us today for a free consultation.

Request a Consultation