Before the Event: Fire Prevention

Red Flag Days
Among the many fire prevention steps taken by local fire districts is the adoption of a "red flag day" warning system to alert residents of extreme fire danger conditions. Do no burning of any type on red flag days - fireplaces and barbecues included. 

Home Hazard Check

  • Be sure your electric outlets are adequate to handle your applicant loads.
  • Keep flammable items away from wall and floor heaters.
  • Take care with candles and space heaters. 
  • Store flammable liquids in air-tight containers away from ignition sources such as pilot lights. 

Smoke Detectors
Make sure you have smoke detectors placed strategically if a fire starts inside your home. Have them on the wall or ceiling outside bedrooms and on each floor of your home. Test smoke detectors monthly and replace batteries once a year, at the same time you rotate your emergency food supply and water supply. 

Fire Extinguishers
Keep multi-purpose fire extinguishers (2-A:10-B:C Rated) handy in the kitchen and garage. Check your fire extinguishers at least once a year and have them recharged (or replace them) as needed. Be sure that all family members know how to use your fire extinguishers. 

Vegetation Management

  • Clear brush, weeds and dry grass within 30 to 100 feet of your home.
  • Space the remaining vegetation into distinct groups to create fuel breaks. 
  • Eliminate highly flammable plants from your yard. A list of these plants and trees is available from your local nursery. 
  • Leave garden hoses connected to all outside faucets to provide a means of immediate fire protection. 
  • Trim dead branches out of your trees. 
  • Prune tree branches that overhang roofs. Remove lower tree limbs to a height of 10 feet, and remove trees within 10 feet of structures. 
  • Keep grasses and ground covers trimmed low under trees so that ground fire will not have a ladder to climb up to your tree’s canopy. 
  • Keep landscape watered; don’t let it dry out. 

Home Maintenance/Construction 

  • Display easy-to-read house numbers which should be clearly visible from the street, day or night.
  • Install spark arresters on the chimneys. 
  • incorporate fire-resistive building practices and materials if you are remodeling or building a new home. 

During a Fire

Prepare for Evacuation 

  • Stay calm and keep family together. 
  • Alert your neighbors. 
  • Check with the neighborhood coordinator or emergency broadcast radio. 
  • Keep a flashlight and portable radio with you at all times. 
  • Dress in cotton or wool long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, gloves, hat, goggles, and carry a damp towel, bandana, or N95 mask to protect against smoke. 
  • Assemble your irreplaceable possessions and your Evacuation Priority Bag (valuables such as photo albums, original art, address books, stocks, bonds, vital medications, etc.).
  • Move your car off the street so that you don’t block emergency vehicles. Park in your driveway with the front of the car facing the street. 
  • Confine pets. 
  • Follow evacuation instructions from public safety officials or emergency broadcast radio. 
  • Be ready to lave on foot or bicycle to keep roads clear for emergency vehicles.
  • If time permits:
    • Close windows, blinds, and doors. 
    • Remove curtains and drapes. 
    • Remove flammable items away from the windows, into the center of the room. 
    • Shut off gas. 
    • Place a ladder against the house on the side away from the fire. 
    • Attach garden hoses to spigots. 


  • Get off the road and out of the way if you are evacuating by car and are confronted by approaching fire trucks. 
  • Be prepared to leave your car if necessary and continue your evacuation on foot. Do not leave your vehicle where it will block the road or hinder firefighters.
  • Listen for updates on the fire’s direction and the safest escape routes. 
  • Once safely away from the flames, family members should meet at your agreed-upon reunion location. 

What if you have waited too long to escape or you become trapped by fast-moving flames on your way out?

  • If the roads out of your neighborhood become impassable, evacuate on foot or bicycle using the trails and stairs which connect many neighborhoods.
  • If you are evacuating by car, park clear of vegetation, close the windows and vents, cover yourself and lie on the floor. Do not leave the vehicle. 
  • If you are evacuating on foot or bicycle, find an area clear of vegetation along a road or lie in a ditch and cover all areas of exposed skin. 
  • If you are trapped in your home and have no escape route, close all windows and doors, and leave them unlocked. Stay away from outside walls. Use a damp towel to filter smoke from the air you breathe. 

After a Fire (from the U.S. Fire Administration)

  • Contact your local disaster relief service, such as the American Red Cross. They will help you find food, clothing, medicine, and a place to stay. 
  • If you have insurance, contact your insurance company. 
    • Ask what you should do to keep your home safe until it is repaired. 
    • Ask who you should talk to about cleaning up your home. 
  • If you are not insured, try contacting community groups for aid and assistance. 
  • Check with the fire district to make sure that your home is safe to enter. Be careful when you go inside. Floors and walls may not be as safe as they look. 
  • Contact your landlord or mortgage company to report the fire. 
  • Try to find valuable documents and records. 
  • If you leave your home, call the local police to let them know the site will be vacant. 
  • Begin saving receipts for any money that you spend related to the fire loss. The receipts may be needed later by the insurance company and to prove any losses claimed on your income tax. 
  • Check with an accountant or the IRS about special benefits for people recovering from fire loss.