How To Prepare For A Wildfire In California

Matt Lillywhite
Photo of San Francisco via Unsplash

"While wildfires are a natural part of California's landscape, the fire season in California and across the West is starting earlier and ending later each year," per a statement by CalFire. "Climate change is considered a key driver of this trend."

How To Prepare For A Wildfire.

The US Government recommends using fire-resistant materials to build, renovate or make repairs on your home. It's also a good idea to create a fire-resistant zone (sometimes referred to as a defensible space) that's free of leaves, debris, or flammable materials. So, if a wildfire occurs, you'll have a lot more time to evacuate your family and get to safety.

FEMA is a US Government agency. They have an app that you can download to receive real-time alerts about smoke, fires, and other things that can pose a threat to your safety. The app also has advice that can help you prepare for other natural disasters such as flooding, hurricanes, snowstorms, tornadoes, volcanoes, and more. Plus, if you prefer to read in another language, you can toggle between English and Spanish in the settings.

FEMA also recommends creating an emergency supply kit that you can store in your home and/or car. It should include:

  • Water and non-perishable food for several days
  • Extra cell phone battery or charger
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags, and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Non-sparking wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Local maps

How To Stay Safe During A Wildfire.

Pay attention to weather alerts from the National Weather Service and your local authorities. If you are told to evacuate, do not stay home to protect your property. FEMA recommends wearing an N-95 mask to protect yourself from smoke inhalation during a fire.

If you are trapped and cannot escape, call 9-1-1 and give your exact location, per the US Government. "Choose a room to close off from outside air and set up a portable air cleaner or filter to keep the air in this room clean even when it's smoky in the rest of the building and outdoors."

Do not return home until your local authorities specifically state it is safe to do so. If there is damage to your property, document it with photographs and contact your insurance company for assistance.

Finally, The American Red Cross offers free shelter to anyone who needs somewhere safe to stay during a disaster or emergency. They provide meals, first-aid, emotional support, and a safe place to sleep.

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Matt Lillywhite publishes national news and local stories. He can be reached via email at


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