You Need a Wildfire Emergency Plan

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It’s a fast-paced heist! And the score is… your loved ones, your most important personal belongings, and your own life. Plan like you care about those things! When there’s an out-of-control fire raging toward your house, you won’t have time to think about what you need, where the kids’ shoes are, or how much food to bring, so think about those things now, while you’re not in danger of combusting. We’ll help you cover your bases throughout this guide.

Making your wildfire emergency checklist now while your mind is calm and clear will keep you on track when things get chaotic during evacuation. Think about what steps will you need to take. Who will be in charge of what? The more detailed your plan, the better.

Remember to include these five things in your wildfire emergency plan:

  • A designated meeting location – Choose a place that’s outside the fire or hazard area for your family members to meet up once they’ve evacuated. Locations like libraries, community centers, or grocery stores on major roads that are away from wilderness/wooded areas are good options.
  • Several escape routes – You never know when a road will be blocked by fallen trees or the fire itself. Head over to Google Maps and identify a few different ways to get to your meeting location.
  • Don’t forget the pets – Create an evacuation plan for your furry friends. If you need to evacuate for a few days, find pet-friendly hotels in the area. Since large animals like cows and horses might not be welcome at a hotel, come up with an evacuation plan for them, too.
  • Family communication plan – Pick a friend or family member who lives outside the hazard area to be the main point of contact for the entire family. Since your designated contact won’t have to run away, he or she can help keep everyone informed and accounted for during the disaster.
  • How to stay informed – Wildfire emergencies can change in the blink of an eye. Include a way to stay informed about where the fire is headed. Battery or crank radios should work for the duration, but note in advance which frequencies will have information during a crisis. Remember that your smart devices may not be reliable sources of info if towers are damaged in the fire.
Rule of Thumb

Talk about the plan! When you make your plan, make sure every person in the household knows their role. Delegate responsibilities where you can, so evacuation can occur more quickly in the event of a wildfire.

When creating your emergency plan, remember that evacuation is ALWAYS the best way to stay safe from a wildfire. If you receive an evacuation warning, prepare to evacuate your family and begin evacuating those large animals. If you receive an evacuation order, evacuate immediately. Do not be the person spraying water on their house after an evacuation order has been given. Sheltering at home is only advised if you received evacuation orders too late and are completely trapped.

Now that your logistics for saving your family’s lives are covered, let’s talk materials.

About the Authors

It takes a village! We are researching, writing and fact checking as a family. Collaboration is the name of the game, whether we’re running from a zombie horde or finding the best way to turn a complex concept into a deliciously digestible set of bullet points.

Katherine Esperanza is a Los Angeles based writer. When she's not conjuring new queer slice-of-life short stories, she's busy watching the newest films, out at queer shows, supporting queer artists, or just checking out the queer community as a whole.

A former international non-profiteer, small business owner, and co-op'er, Katherine is delighted to help introduce more leftist politics into the disaster preparedness/prepper sphere, which is currently far too right-wing.