Published: July 20, 2018

    California Wildfire Season: How to Protect Your Home and Family

    The prolonged drought, sweltering heat, and dry conditions set the stage for another destructive fire season in California. Due to climate change and environmental factors the fire season has expanded to last nearly year-round, according to experts. 2017’s fire season left $10 billion in damages and 44 deaths in its wake.

    Wildfires can strike anywhere at anytime in California, especially in the dryer southern regions. With fire prone areas becoming more populated each year it is imperative that you plan ahead so you can evacuate as quickly and safely as possible if a wildfire strikes.

    Prepare a Fire Safety Kit

    When you are placed under a wildfire warning you and your family will likely have to leave your home right away. Prepare an emergency supply kit that can be grabbed as you leave. Store food and water in a chest or tub with wheels for easier transport. Other items can be packed in a duffel bag or backpack. You should bring:

    • Three gallons of filtered water per person
    • Non-perishable food to last three days
    • A map with multiple evacuation routes
    • Flashlight
    • First aid kit
    • Battery-powered radio with extra batteries
    • Medications
    • Credit cards, checks, and some cash
    • Car keys
    • Pet food, supplies, and water
    • Copies of birth certificates and passports
    • Electronic chargers
    • Hard drives

    In case of a nighttime evacuation keep a pair of tough shoes and a flashlight next to your bed.

    Other Precautions

    Once you have a kit ready to go, take the following steps to be prepared in case of a wildfire:

    • Sign up for the community warning system so you are sent emergency alerts right away in case of fire. You can sign up for alerts through the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
    • Learn the evacuation plans and routes for your area. Have one or two backup routes mapped out in case a wildfire is making one of your routes unsafe. Locate shelter locations near your home, and have a plan in place for your pets.
    • Create a zone free of flammable materials for 30-feet in every direction from your home. Remove all debris, leaves, and other flammable materials to impede the advance of a wildfire into your home.
    • Research the insurance policy on your home and make the proper adjustments if you do not feel the settlement or conditions will adequately protect and provide for you in the event that your home is damaged or destroyed by a wildfire.
    • Practice with your children so they know what to do in the event of a wildfire. You can make it like a game, seeing who can gather their kits and belongings and get to the car in the least amount of time.
    • Consider the unique requirements of your family and read our emergency water guide to ensure you store enough filtered water in the event of a wildfire. Toddlers and seniors will require more water per day, and you should also factor in considerations like temperature and medical needs.
    • Store a digital copy of your financial documents, including your taxes, medical records, and insurance information. Ideally, store your documents on a cloud-storage service so you can access information remotely in the event that your home is damaged. Password-protect all sensitive documents.

    Plan ahead to limit the risk of being trapped by a wildfire as much as possible. Listen to local alerts so you and your family are never caught by surprise.