Wildfire Preparedness Checklist

With this wildfire preparedness checklist, learn what to do before, during and after a wildfire with expert guidance from the Western Fire Chiefs Association (WFCA).

Published:April 4, 2023
Edited:
March 1, 2024

Table of Contents

    With this wildfire preparedness checklist, learn what to do before, during, and after a wildfire with expert guidance from the Western Fire Chiefs Association (WFCA).

    Wildfire season typically lasts from May to October, but practicing wildfire mitigation throughout the year protects yourself, your loved ones, and your property from fire. If a wildfire threatens your area, you can be ready to respond quickly. Once fire danger has passed, there are strategies to make sure your property is secure. Below is an action plan of steps you can take before, during, and after a wildfire to stay safe.

    Before a Wildfire

    • Put together an emergency kit, including food and water, a first aid kit, spare clothes, and items to support you and your loved ones’ health, safety, and comfort in the event of an emergency.1
    • Create an evacuation plan. Designate a point-of-contact person who is outside your area. This person will be the source of communication that all family members can reach out to if they become separated.
    • Consider ways to build out the defensible space around your home. Maintaining firescaping practices throughout the year can help save your property from fire.
    • Harden your home to guard your house against fire. Embers blown by the wind can ignite flammable parts of houses or make their way in through vents. Take steps to ensure your home will resist fire.2
    • Ensure your valuables are safe with digital copies of important documents and a fire-proof safe or other secure storage plans for important items.

    During a Wildfire

    • Stay alert and informed about the level of evacuation in your area by tuning in to local news and radio. Keep your devices charged in case of power loss.3
    • Prepare your property for evacuation by shutting off gas and air conditioning, closing doors and windows, bringing outdoor items inside, turning on all lights, rearranging furniture to be away from walls, and ensuring your home is accessible to firefighters.4
    • Remember the Five Ps of Evacuation:5
      • People (and pets and other livestock)
      • Prescriptions (e.g., medical equipment, batteries and charging devices for important health equipment, eyeglasses, hearing aids)
      • Papers (e.g., hard copy documents, electronic backups saved on portable flash drives or external hard drives)
      • Personal needs (including food and water, a first aid kit, cash, important electronics and chargers, and items to support health and comfort)
      • Priceless items (e.g., pictures, mementos, valuables)
    • Dress for evacuation in full-covering clothing, eye protection, and a face covering or mask.6
    • Follow evacuation routes and set a meeting location outside of the hazard area where family and loved ones should gather.

    After a Wildfire

    • Check with authorities before returning to your property. Your local or state fire department, state forestry service, or U.S. Forestry Service will let you know if the fire danger has passed, additional risks are taken care of, and if the air quality in your area is safe.7
    • Wear protective clothing to protect yourself from pollution and irritants that may still linger after a fire.
    • Exercise caution when traveling through an area affected by fire. There may be debris left by burned trees, utility poles, or collapsing slopes. Roads and driveways may be damaged or blocked as well.8
    • Check your property for any hot spots, embers, or smoldering materials. Clearing debris from around your house and driveway will help keep your home safe from fire.8
    • Air out your home once the air quality has improved.
    A PDF download of WFCA's Wildfire Preparedness Checklist, which lists steps to take before, during, & after a wildfire.
    Download the wildfire preparedness checklist by clicking the button below!

    WFCA Wildfire Preparedness Resources

    Sources

    1. Ready.gov, “Build a Kit.” Accessed September 21, 2022.
    2. USI, “Wildfire Preparedness: A Basic Checklist.” Accessed March 20, 2023.
    3. FEMA, “Wildfire Evacuation Checklist.” Accessed March 20, 2023.
    4. Living with Fire, “Wildfire Evacuation Checklist.” Accessed September 12, 2022.
    5. Washington State Department of Natural Resources, “How to Prepare for a Wildfire.” Accessed March 20, 2023.
    6. Fire Safe Marin, “Evacuation Go-Kit.” Accessed September 21, 2022.
    7. American Red Cross, “Wildfire Safety Checklist.” Accessed March 20, 2023.
    8. Ready for Wildfire, “Returning Home After A Wildfire.” Accessed March 22, 2023.

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