How to Evacuate a Wildfire

August 31st, 2020

Tahoe Network of Fire Adapted Communities

August 2020 Newsletter: How to Evacuate a Wildfire

First and foremost, our thoughts go out to all of those who have been impacted by California and Nevada's recent wildfires. As we face the risks and impacts of wildfire throughout the West, those of us at Lake Tahoe must be prepared for a potential evacuation. Here's what you need to know:

When evacuating a wildfire, leave as soon as possible and remember that no possession is worth your life.

Local officials will determine evacuation routes based on the fire location, behavior, and the weather. Law enforcement is responsible for orchestrating an evacuation. Follow their directions and do NOT return home until it is deemed safe.

Are you signed up for emergency notifications?

If You Have 5 Minutes or Less to Evacuate

Change into long pants, a long-sleeve shirt, closed-toed shoes, and put on a face mask and glasses or goggles
Grab your pre-made Go-Bags for family and pets
Pack important documents
Passports / IDs
Social security cards
Birth certificates
Marriage certificates
Home and vehicle titles
Home inventory list for insurance

Pro tip: store all of these items together so they're easy to grab at once.

If You Have 15 Minutes to Evacuate

In addition to the previous actions...

Shut off gas at the meter and turn off pilot lights
Shut off air conditioning
Shut off propane tanks and move barbecues away from the house
Leave on all lights so firefighters can see your home in smoke
Close all windows, doors, and the garage
If You Have 30 Minutes to Evacuate
In addition to the previous actions...

Move flammable furniture away from windows and doors and remove flammable curtains
Cover attic and ground vents with pre-cut plywood or other covering
Close or block dog doors
Prop open wooden gates that touch the house
Attach hoses to outside faucets
Leave a noncombustible ladder outside
Check on your neighbors

If You Have More than 30 Minutes to Evacuate

In addition to the previous actions...

Grab important items that you would be devastated to lose
Photo albums
Computers and laptops

Pro tip: create a prioritized list so you can quickly grab things in the moment.

Remember that an evacuation can be hectic and stressful; being prepared is crucial. Make a list of your prioritized items ahead of time.Take time to make a plan with your family and practice getting in and out of your neighborhood.

Lastly, print this wildfire evacuation checklist, fill in the blanks, and store it in your Go-Bag so you're ready to go!