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Wildfire: How to Prepare

Authored By: Northwest Justice Project LSC Funded

List of what to do during a wildfire emergency, especially if you expect to have to evacuate.




Be ready to leave at a moment’s notice:

  • Listen to local radio and TV stations for updated emergency info.
  • Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape with vehicle loaded and all doors and windows closed.
  • Put your Emergency Supply Kit in your vehicle.
  • Carry your car keys with you.
  • Confine pets to one room so you can find them if you need to evacuate quickly.
  • Arrange for temporary housing at a friend or relative’s home outside the threatened area.
  • Listen and watch for air quality reports and health warnings about smoke.
  • Keep indoor air clean: Close your windows and doors to keep outside smoke from getting in.
  • Use the recycle or re-circulate mode on the air conditioner in your home or car. If you do not have AC and it is too hot to stay inside with closed windows, seek shelter elsewhere.
  • When smoke levels are high, do not use anything that burns and adds to indoor air pollution, such as candles, fireplaces and gas stoves. Do not vacuum: It stirs up particles already inside your home.
  • If you have asthma or another lung disease, follow your health care provider's advice and seek medical care if your symptoms worsen.
  • Prepare farm animals for transport and think about moving them to a safe location early.
  • Patrol your property and monitor the fire situation. Don’t wait for an evacuation order if you feel threatened.
    Check on neighbors and make sure they are preparing to leave.


If you have time, take these steps, too:

  • Remove flammable window shades, curtains and close metal shutters.
  • Remove lightweight curtains.
  • Move flammable furniture to the center of the room, away from windows and doors.
  • Shut off gas at the meter; turn off pilot lights.
  • Leave your lights on, including exterior lights, so firefighters can see your house under smoky or dark conditions.
  • Shut off the air conditioning.
  • Gather up flammable items from the exterior of the house and bring them inside (patio furniture, children’s toys, door mats, trash cans) or place them in your pool.
  • Turn off propane tanks.
  • Move propane BBQ appliances away from structures.
  • Connect garden hoses to outside water valves or spigots for use by firefighters. Fill water buckets and place them around the house.
  • Don’t leave sprinklers on or water running. This can affect critical water pressure.
  • Have a ladder available and place it at the corner of the house for firefighters to quickly access your roof.
  • Seal attic and ground vents with pre-cut plywood or commercial seals.
Last Review and Update: Jul 11, 2018