With the recent fires in Sonoma County hitting so close to home, we wanted to create a guide for what to do if a fire evacuation order ever comes your way. Wildfire evacuation is a scary term, one we hope never applies to you, but if it does we want you to be prepared so you can get out quickly.
It’s important to remember that your life is much more important than your house. That is what insurance is for. We can replace your home and the things inside, but we can’t replace you. This checklist is only to be performed under an evacuation warning, once an evacuation becomes mandatory, we suggest you get in your car and go.
Protect Your Home
- Move all flammable items like curtains, sheets, wood furniture, cleaning and beauty products with accelerants, and paper away from exterior walls
- Shut windows and doors but leave them unlocked and leave the lights on just in case fire crews need to enter
- Turn off all pilot lights and the main gas line to your home
- Turn off the heater or air conditioning and any other systems running in your home
- If you have a pool, put propane tanks, patio furniture, and any other flammable landscaping into it. If you don’t have a pool put everything but the propane tanks inside. Move those tanks as far away from structures as possible.
- Leave hoses on and ready for firefighters to use if necessary
- If you have time to soak your yard with your sprinklers before you leave, do so, but don’t evacuate with the sprinklers on as it may cause problems with water pressure in an emergency
- Put a ladder against your roof
Have an Emergency Kit Packed
If you live in a Wildfire prone area, you should pack your emergency kit in May and keep it maintained until heavy rains come (hopefully by November). In addition to your emergency kit, make sure you maintain your vehicle and your spare tire. Your car is your lifeline in an emergency.
This kit should include:
- 3-5 days of clothing for all family members
- A week’s supply of all essential medications
- A first aid kit and flashlight
- Cell phone chargers
- A battery-powered radio
- Food and water for humans and pets
- Particle masks for all family members
- 5 gallons of gas for the car
- Blankets or sleeping bags
- Any valuables or heirlooms you would want to take with you
- Toiletries and glasses or contacts
Don’t Forget Your Pets
Your pets will be terrified in the chaos of an evacuation. Make sure they are used to going into their crates and feel safe inside. When you go to get in the car, make sure your pets are on leashes or crated up before you open the door. Hundreds of pets get lost when they run outside in a panic during evacuations. If you haven’t updated your pet’s microchip information in a while, now is a great time.
If you have livestock, don’t wait for the evacuation to become mandatory. You need extra time to load them into the trailer and get them to a safe place. Get them out as soon as there is a possible threat, so you don’t get caught having to turn them loose when it’s too late to load them.
Know the Way Out and Just Go
Even during broad daylight, smoke may obstruct your visibility and make navigation difficult as you leave. Know two ways out and know them well. The last thing you want is to get lost while you are leaving.
As you are leaving, check on your neighbors if you have time. Make sure they are aware of the evacuation and leaving right behind you.
Don’t ever enter an evacuation zone you don’t live in. You can get in the way of emergency responders as well as putting your life in danger. It is illegal to enter an evacuation zone, and you could end up getting arrested.
It’s always better to get out early. It gives you time to get organized as you leave and keeps you safe. No person can stop the force of wildfire on their own. If your home can be saved, emergency responders will take care of it. Don’t put your life in danger; it’s not worth it.