Everything you need to know to protect you, your family and property during a wildfire

Knowing what to do in the event of a wildfire can help save your life and property. Learn how to protect you, your family and property during a rural fire with these essential wildfire safety tips.

Little Bear Fire, burning operation on 532 Road, June 13, 2012, Photo by Kari Greer/USFS

Little Bear Fire, burning operation on 532 Road, June 13, 2012, Photo by Kari Greer/USFS

If a fire approaches your home

  • Let the neighbors know;

  • Water walls, roof and 10 meters around house;

  • Close doors, windows and other openings, close blinds or shutters;

  • Remove furniture, tarpaulins or firewood near the dwelling;

  • If it is safe to do so, disconnect and remove the gas cylinders to a safe place;

  • Keep away from the windows anything that can burn and put wet towels in the crevices;

  • If you are not in danger, extinguish small outbreaks with water, earth or green branches;

  • Follow the instructions of the authorities.

If you get surrounded by a fire

  • Make your way to a shelter or collective refuge. If you are not near one, look for a preferably flat area with water or little vegetation;

  • Breathe close to the floor, if possible with a wet cloth, to avoid inhaling the smoke;

  • Cover your head and the rest of the body;

  • Use a damp cloth to protect your face from heat and smoke.

  • Communicate your situation to the authorities through 911.

In case of confinement within the building

  • Keep calm;

  • Keep the curtains and sofas away from the windows;

  • Close doors, windows and other openings that allow the entrance of sparks to the interior;

  • Place wet towels in the crevices of doors and windows;

  • Stay away from walls;

  • Look for shelter in the rooms at the opposite end of the dwelling relative to the side where the fire is approaching;

  • Wait for the fire to pass, and then check for fire outbreaks surrounding the dwelling and on your roof.

  • Communicate your situation to the authorities through 911.

additional resources

If you are near a fire

  • Immediately call 911;

  • If you are not in danger and have suitable clothing try to extinguish small outbreaks with shovels, hoes or branches;

  • Avoid exposure to smoke, cover your mouth and nose with a damp cloth;

  • Protect the body from flames and heat with dry and long clothing;

  • Do not impair the actions of firefighters, forest firefighters and other rescue forces and follow their instructions;

  • Remove your vehicle from the access routes to the fire;

  • If you notice the presence of people with high risk behavior, inform the authorities.

  • Follow the indications of the authorities.

Have an evacuation kit prepared with:

  • First-aid kit;

  • Your usual medication;

  • Water and non-perishable food;

  • Personal hygiene products;

  • A change of clothes;

  • Radio, flashlight and whistle;

  • Money;

  • Family / friends contact list

Protect yourself from smoke

  • Keep smoke outside. Choose a room you can close off from outside air.

  • Set up a portable air cleaner or a filter to keep the air in this room clean even when it’s smoky in the rest of the building and outdoors.

  • Reduce your smoke exposure by wearing a respirator. Respirators are not made to fit children.

  • If you have heart or lung disease ask your doctor if it is safe for you to wear a respirator.

  • Avoid using candles, gas, propane, wood-burning stoves, fireplaces, or aerosol sprays and don’t fry or broil meat, smoke tobacco products, or vacuum.

  • If you have a central air conditioning system, use high efficiency filters to capture fine particles from smoke. If your system has a fresh air intake, set the system to recirculate mode or close the outdoor intake damper.

  • Pay attention to any health symptoms if you have asthma, COPD, heart disease, or are pregnant. Get medical help if you need it.

In case of Evacuation

  • Keep calm and obey the authorities instructions;

  • Help children, the elderly and people with mobility limitations;

  • Take your evacuation kit and identification documents;

  • Do not waste time collecting unnecessary objects and do not go back;

  • Close the doors and windows as you move out of the dwelling;

  • Take pets with you. Some evacuation centers do not accept animals. Check Petfinder’s Shelter Center or RedRover for information on local animal shelters and rescue groups.

  • Make your way quickly to the nearest shelter or collective refuge

  • Comply with authority indications.