What to Do During a Wildfire

Arranging temporary housing and gathering fire tools are just some of the tips FEMA has for what to do during a wildfire.
California wildfires 2007
Wildfire in Santa Clarita, California in October 2007|Photo by Jeff Turner / Fire At Night

Thousands of firefighters are battling wildfires burning east of Sacramento.

The King Fire, which continues to grow, has forced more than 2,100 people out of their homes, “though the fire has not yet destroyed a single structure,” according to USA Today.

     The 111-square-mile wildfire, which increased 1.5 times in size overnight, has been burning in steep canyons since Saturday and exploded in size Wednesday and early Thursday after 90-degree temperatures helped fuel its spread. On Monday, it was less than 4,000 acres and remained relatively close to the small mountain town of Pollock Pines, Calif., along U.S. 50.

RELATED: How to Survive a Wildfire

If you are not ordered to evacuate, and have time to prepare your home, FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) recommends you take the following actions:

  • Arrange temporary housing at a friend or relative’s home outside the threatened area in case you need to evacuate.
  • Wear protective clothing when outside – sturdy shoes, cotton or woolen clothes, long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, gloves and a handkerchief to protect your face.
  • Gather fire tools such as a rake, axe, handsaw or chainsaw, bucket and shovel.
  • Close outside attic, eaves and basement vents, windows, doors, pet doors, etc. Remove flammable drapes and curtains. Close all shutters, blinds or heavy non-combustible window coverings to reduce radiant heat.
  • Close all doors inside the house to prevent draft. Open the damper on your fireplace, but close the fireplace screen.
  • Shut off any natural gas, propane or fuel oil supplies at the source.
  • Connect garden hoses to outdoor water faucet and fill any pools, hot tubs, garbage cans, tubs or other large containers with water.
  • Place lawn sprinklers on the roof and near above-ground fuel tanks. Leave sprinklers on and dowsing these strutures as long as possible.
  • If you have gas-powered pumps for water, make sure they are fueled and ready.
  • Place a ladder against the house in clear view.
  • Disconnect any automatic garage door openers so that doors can still be opened by hand if the power goes out. Close all garage doors.
  • Place valuable papers, mementos and anything “you can’t live without” inside the car in the garage, ready for quick departure. Any pets still with you should also be put in the car.
  • Place valuables that will not be damaged by water in a pool or pond.
  • Move flammable furniture into the center of the residence away from the windows and sliding-glass doors.
  • Turn on outside lights and leave a light on in every room to make the house more visible in heavy smoke.