Wildfire Preparation: What to Do Before, During and After a Fire

Preparing for a Wildfire

EMERGENCY KIT ESSENTIALS

(Source: https://www.ready.gov/build-a-kit)

  • Three gallons of water per person. 
  • Three days worth of non-perishable food. 
  • Any prescription medications or prescription eyewear. 
  • Copies of important documents including birth certificates, passports, insurance cards, etc. 
  • Emergency fund of cash in small bills. ATMs and banks may not be available, and this fund will last longer than just relying on whatever’s in your wallet. 
  • Make sure to pack a change of pants and long sleeve shirts, but don’t use up too much of your kit’s space on clothes. 
  • A battery powered radio and extra batteries, wi-fi may not be available and government officials will be using radio stations to communicate evacuation zones and other important information. 
  • A change of clothes, with long sleeves and pants to protect yourself from any fire. Also make sure to have a bandana and/or goggles packed to protect from smoke exposure. 
  • N95 masks for each person to keep smoke out of the lungs. 

PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES OR MEDICAL ISSUES

(Source: https://www.ready.gov/individuals-access-functional-needs)

  • Establish a support network who know where your emergency medications are kept as well as your emergency kit. If emergency medications are kept in a locked container, make sure these people have access. 
  • Establish pre-determined methods of communicating in the event of a disaster, with the assumption that phones may not be viable. 
  • Plan ahead to have specialized transport ready in the event of an emergency. 
  • If you require equipment to communicate, consider having an alternative method in case that equipment is damaged, such as a deck of cards with phrases or pictures. 
  • If you need dialysis or other regular medical treatment, make sure to have a map of multiple nearby facilities. 

PETS

(Source: https://www.readyforwildfire.org/prepare-for-wildfire/go-evacuation-guide/animal-evacuation/)

  • If you have pets, remember they will need their own food and water supply for three days. 
  • Consider purchasing an animal carrier or crate that you can use to help move your pets quickly. 
  • Locate a nearby animal hospital or veterinarian and add their contact card to your emergency kit in case your pets suffer any injuries during the fire. 
  • Also make sure to keep your pet’s medical records in your emergency kit, as most veterinarians will require them. 
  • If your pet has a microchip, make sure to keep your contact info up to date, and consider making the emergency contact someone outside of your area for your animal’s safety. 
  • While some cities are covered under Orange County Animal Care, cities within the county are given the option to choose their own animal service provider. Contact your city to learn what options there are for you and your pets. http://www.ocpetinfo.com/about  
  • If your pets must be left behind, keep them in unchained, indoors, in a room with no windows but working ventilation, such as a bathroom or garage. Leave only dry food and water, with a faucet on to drip into a large container or a bathtub if possible. 

LARGE ANIMALS

(Source: https://www.readyforwildfire.org/prepare-for-wildfire/go-evacuation-guide/animal-evacuation/)

  • Make sure all animals have identification. 
  • Make sure to have all necessary vehicles and trailers for transporting large animals ready, and that the people handling the trailers and animals are experienced.  
  • If the animals cannot be moved, find a way to provide them with shelter or release them. 
  • Create a second kit for your animals, containing food and water for three days, a hoof pick, non-nylon leads and halters, first aid equipment, an additional flashlight, buckets of water, and an additional radio. Also bring a shovel and a plastic can and lid. 
  • Consider moving large animals early to save time in the event that you or your household needs to evacuate. 

CARS

(Source: https://www.ready.gov/car)

  • In the event of an emergency where you are not at home, there are several items that should be kept in your car to help you evacuate or make it to your home. 
  • Jumper cables
  • Car cell phone charger-Cell phones and other electronic devices may be useful, but will lose power quickly with constant use in a disaster. Make sure you have a way to recharge them. 
  • Keep your gas tank as full as possible, and never let it go beneath a quarter of a tank. Gas stations may be inaccessible in an emergency, and it will lessen the time needed to get to a safe location. 
  • If an earthquake or other disaster may have damaged the roads, avoid any type of overpass or bridge as they may not be stable. 
  • Move your emergency kit from home into the car as soon as possible in case you need to evacuate. 

CHILDREN

  • Make sure that all children in the house know the planned methods of communication if they’re caught in a wildfire.
  • Show them how to put on their N95 mask and where the emergency kit is stored in the house. 
  • Study your communities evacuation plans and make sure that everyone in your home knows where to go in the event of a disaster. 

HOUSEHOLD

(Source: https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/20130726-1652-20490-9209/fema_p_737_fs_4.pdf)

  • Make sure you have an outdoor water source and a hose that can be used to reach any part of the home. 
  • Create a defensible space that stretches 30 feet from the house that’s been cleared of flammable vegetation and debris. 
  • Make sure to clean the area thoroughly and attempt to find substitutes or fire-resistant variants of various items.
  • Be sure you’re subscribed to Alert OC, so that if an evacuation order is issued in your area you will be notified via smart phone and email, not just landline. https://member.everbridge.net/index/453003085613900#/login 
  • Make sure any documents not being placed in the emergency kit are kept in a fire-proof place, and create digital copies should they be damaged. 

EVACUATION

(Source: https://www.ready.gov/wildfires)

Prepare Indoors https://www.readyforwildfire.org/prepare-for-wildfire/go-evacuation-guide/pre-evacuation-preparation-steps/

  • Close all windows and doors, but make sure to leave them unlocked. 
  • Remove and flammable curtains, and if you own metal shutters make sure they are closed. 
  • Move any types of flammable furniture away from the walls and windows to the center of the room. 
  • Leave lights on in the house for firefighters, and make sure exterior lights are on so that homes can be identified through smoke and darkness by firefighters. 
  • Turn off gas at the meter, and make sure the pilot lights are off as well. 
  • Fill buckets of water and place them in each room.

Prepare Outdoors

(Source: https://www.readyforwildfire.org/prepare-for-wildfire/go-evacuation-guide/pre-evacuation-preparation-steps/)

  • Don’t leave sprinklers or water running as it can lower critical water pressure. 
  • For any flammable items outside such as lawn furniture, doormats, etc., either bring it inside or put it in your pool. 
  • Move your Emergency Kit into the car. 
  • Place a ladder near the corner of your house to give firefighters easier access to the roof. 
  • Patrol your neighborhood, and evacuate early if you feel the fire is too close. Check in on neighbors and help them with any preparations to leave. 
  • Connect any hoses to water spigots outside. 

During a Wildfire

Information 

(Source: OCFA Captain Jon Muir) 

  • Use the emergency radios from your emergency kit to monitor what’s happening. The list below are potential stations that may be used to disseminate information. 
    • KNX 1070
    • KWVE 107.9 
    • KFI AM 640
    • KROQ 106.7
    • KISS 102.7 
    • KLOS 95.5 
    • KUCI 88.9

Protection

(Source https://www.readyforwildfire.org/prepare-for-wildfire/go-evacuation-guide/evacuation-steps/

  • If you have an N95 mask, wear it to filter any harmful particles out of your lungs. If you don’t have access to a mask, cover your face with a bandanna to help keep smoke out of the lungs. 
  • Also ensure that you’re wearing long sleeves to protect against any stray embers, and have either glasses or goggles to keep smoke out of your eyes. 
  • If you have not evacuated but are still near smoke, stay inside to or move to a building where smoke levels are lower. 

Evacuation

(Source:https://www.readyforwildfire.org/prepare-for-wildfire/go-evacuation-guide/evacuation-steps/

  • Once the evacuation is recommended, you should leave. Do not wait to be ordered by authorities to leave. Make sure to be checking your radios and local TV stations for evacuation orders. 
  • Authorities may send you to a temporary waiting area before moving you to a safe location. Please follow their instructions. 

After a Wildfire

RETURNING HOME

(Source: https://www.ready.gov/wildfires)

  • Do not return home until you are told it is safe to do so by authorities. 
  • Do not drink from any water that has not been cleared for use. 
  • Avoid any charred wreckage or live embers. The ground can hold heat pockets that can start a new fire or burn, so make sure to take your pets into consideration. 
  • Text or use social media to communicate with family and friends, phone lines should be reserved for emergencies only. 
  • Check propane tanks and lines before turning on the gas again.

LONG-TERM

(Source: https://www.ready.gov/wildfires)

  • Use a camera to take photos of the fire damage and contact your insurance company. 
  • Wildfires can cause major changes to the surrounding environment that can lead to floods for up to five years after. Recognize that flooding and mudflow may be an issue in the future.