When fire weather is severe (Red Flag Warning), a fire is burning nearby, or an evacuation is anticipated, follow this checklist (if time allows) to give you and your home the best chance of surviving a wildfire. Read through it BEFORE a fire, to better understand your priorities and decision-making process when a fire strikes.
Updated May 2019 with lessons learned from the Camp Fire, North Bay Fires, and other recent evacuations!
Monitor all available information sources - Alert Marin, social medial (especially Twitter, also Facebook, Next Door), local media (TV and radio), and use your senses to be aware of the situation outside.
Monitor local news and radio stations for fire information. In Marin, AM 740 (KCBS), 810 and FM 88.5 are good options. In West Marin, KWMR FM 90.5 Point Reyes & FM 89.9 Bolinas are excellent local options. KPIX, KRON, KTVU are good local TV news sources.
Alert your neighbors to heightened risk on Red Flag Days, or when a fire is buring nearby, especially if they are have children, or are elderly or disabled.
- Ensure your cell phone is fully charged.
- Notify an out-of-area contact of your phone number, location and status. Update regularly.
- Leave a note with your contact info and out-of-area contact taped to refrigerator or inside a front window.
- Check on or call neighbors to alert them to prepare.
ON YOUR PERSON
- Dress all family members in long sleeves and long pants; heavy cotton or wool is best, no matter how hot it is.
- Wear full coverage goggles, leather gloves, head protection.
- Cover faces with a dry cotton or wool bandanna or scarf over an N95 respirator.
- Carry a headlamp and flashlight (even during the day).
- Carry car keys, wallet, ID, cell phone, and spare battery.
- Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated.
- Put “Go Kit” (pg. 2) in your vehicle.
INSIDE THE HOUSE
- Shut all windows and doors (interior too) and leave them unlocked.
- Remove combustible window shades and lightweight curtains; close metal shutters.
- Move furniture to the center of the room, away from windows.
- Leave indoor and outdoor lights on for firefighters.
- Shut off HVAC and ceiling fans.
PETS & ANIMALS
- Locate your pets and place in carriers NOW. You won’t be able to catch them when the fire approaches.
- Be sure your pets wear tags and are registered with microchips.
- Place carriers (with your pets in them) near the front door, with fresh water and extra food.
- Prepare horses and large animals for transport and consider moving them to a safe location early, before evacuation is ordered.
- Learn more about evacuating pets...
- Learn more about evacuating large animals...
OUTSIDE & IN NEIGHBORHOOD
- Place combustible outdoor items (patio furniture, toys, doormats, trash cans, etc.) in garage or move 30’ from structures (optional: place in a pool).
- Shut off gas at the meter or propane tank; move small tanks at least 15’ away from combustibles.
- Connect garden hoses to outside water valves or spigots for use by firefighters. Attach squeeze-grip nozzles if you have them.
- Fill water buckets and place around outside of house, especially near decks and fences.
- Don’t leave sprinklers on or water running - they are ineffective and can reduce critical water pressure needed by firefighters.
- Hosing your roof down is dangerous and ineffective. Clean your gutters and blow leaves away from house instead (only if time allows).
- Back your car into driveway, loaded, with doors and windows closed.
- Unlock and prop open fence and side gates.
- Place ladder(s) at the corner(s) of structures for firefighters.
- Seal attic and ground vents with pre-cut plywood or metal covers (even duct tape will protect from ember entry) if time allows.
- Patrol your property and monitor conditions. Leave if spot fires ignite or conditions change.
WHEN YOU LEAVE
- Leave immediately if ordered.
- Don’t wait for an evacuation order if you feel unsafe or conditions change; leave early if unsure.
- Assist elderly or disabled neighbors.
- Carpool to reduce traffic.
- Take only essential vehicles with adequate fuel.
- In your car, turn on headlights, close windows, turn on inside air and AC, tune to local radio.
- Drive slowly and defensively; be observant.
- The best evacuation route is usually the one you know best. Take the fastest paved route to a valley floor, away from the fire if possible. Avoid fire roads.
- Evacuate on foot only as a last resort.
- You are better protected inside a vehicle or building.
- If roads are impassable or you are trapped: take shelter inside a car, building, or an open area; park in an outside turn if trapped on a hillside; stay far from vegetation; look for wide roads, parking lots, playing fields, etc.