Wildfires often begin unnoticed. They spread
quickly, igniting brush, trees, and homes.
Reduce your risk by preparing now before
wildfire strikes. Meet with your family to
decide what to do and where to go if wildfires
threaten your area. Follow the steps listed
below to protect your family, home, and
People start most wildfires . . . find out how
you can promote and practice wildfire safety.
Contact your local fire department for
information on fire laws. Make sure that fire
vehicles can get to your home. Clearly mark all
driveway entrances and display your name and
Report hazardous conditions that could cause a
Teach children about fire safety. Keep matches
out of their reach.
Post fire emergency telephone numbers.
Plan several escape routes away from your home
by car and by foot.
Talk to your neighbors about wildfire safety.
Plan how the neighborhood could work together
after a wildfire. Make a list of your neighbors'
skills, such as medical or technical. Consider
how you could help neighbors who have special
needs, such as elderly or disabled persons. Make
plans to take care of children who may be on
their own if parents can't get home.
Protect Your Home
Regularly clean roof and gutters.
Inspect chimneys at least twice a year. Clean
them at least once a year. Keep the dampers in
good working order. Equip chimneys and
stovepipes with a spark arrester that meets the
requirements of National Fire Protection
Association Code 211. (Contact your local fire
department for exact specifications.)
Use 1/2-inch mesh screen beneath porches, decks,
floor areas, and the home itself. Also, screen
openings to floors, roof, and attic.
Install a smoke detector on each level of your
home, especially near bedrooms; test monthly and
change the batteries at least once each year.
Teach each family member how to use the fire
extinguisher (ABC type) and show them where it's
Keep a ladder that will reach the roof.
Consider installing protective shutters or heavy
Keep handy household items that can be used as
fire tools: a rake, axe, handsaw or chainsaw,
bucket, and shovel.
Before Wildfire Threatens
Design and landscape your home with wildfire
safety in mind.
Select materials and plants that can help
contain fire rather than fuel it.
Use fire resistant or non-combustible materials
on the roof and exterior structure of the
dwelling. Or treat wood or combustible material
used in roofs, siding, decking, or trim with
UL-approved fire-retardant chemicals.
Plant fire-resistant shrubs and trees. For
example, hardwood trees are less flammable than
pine, evergreen, eucalyptus or fir trees.
Create a 30- to 100-Foot Safety Zone around Your
Within this area, you can take steps to reduce
potential exposure to flames and radiant heat.
Homes built in pine forests should have a
minimum safety zone of 100 feet. If your home
sits on a steep slope, standard protective
measures may not suffice. Contact your local
fire department or forestry office for
Rake leaves, dead limbs, and twigs. Clear all
Remove leaves and rubbish from under structures
and dispose of them properly.
Thin a 15-foot space between tree crowns, and
remove limbs within 15 feet of the ground.
Remove dead branches that extend over the roof.
Prune tree branches and shrubs within 15 feet of
a stovepipe or chimney outlet.
Ask the power company to clear branches from
Remove vines from the walls of the home.
Mow grass regularly.
Clear a 10-foot area around propane tanks and
the barbecue. Place a screen over the grill--use
non-flammable material with mesh no coarser than
Regularly dispose of newspapers and rubbish at
an approved site. Follow local burning
Place stove, fireplace, and grill ashes in a
metal bucket, soak in water for two days, then
bury the cold ashes in mineral soil.
Store gasoline, oily rags, and other flammable
materials in approved safety cans. Place cans in
a safe location away from the base of buildings.
Stack firewood at least 100 feet away and uphill
from your home. Clear combustible material
within 20 feet. Use only UL-approved wood
Plan Your Water Needs
Identify and maintain an adequate outside water
source such as a small pond, cistern, well,
swimming pool, or hydrant.
Have a garden hose that is long enough to reach
any area of the home and other structures on the
Install freeze-proof exterior water outlets on
at least two sides of the home and near other
structures on the property. Install additional
outlets at least 50 feet from the home.
Consider obtaining a portable gasoline-powered
pump in case electrical power is cut off.
When Wildfire Threatens
If you are warned that a wildfire is threatening
your area, listen to your battery-operated radio
for reports and evacuation information. Follow
the instructions of local officials.
Back your car into the garage or park it in an
open space facing the direction of escape. Shut
doors and roll up windows. Leave the key in the
ignition. Close garage windows and doors, but
leave them unlocked. Disconnect automatic garage
Confine pets to one room. Make plans to care for
your pets in case you must evacuate.
Arrange temporary housing at a friend or
relative's home outside the threatened area.
If Advised to Evacuate, Do So Immediately
Wear protective clothing -- sturdy shoes, cotton
or woolen clothing, long pants, a long-sleeved
shirt, gloves, and a handkerchief to protect
Take your emergency supply kit
Lock your home.
Tell someone when you left and where you are
Choose a route away from fire hazards. Watch for
changes in the speed and direction of fire and
-Info from the American Red Cross