Evacuation Tips For Safely Escaping Wildfires

July 30, 2021 by

Imagine an area the size of Los Angeles being razed by wildfire. That’s the Bootleg Fire in Oregon – more than 476 square miles, and it remains 75% uncontained. Meanwhile, with more than 70 other wildfires raging in 11 other states, the U.S. is at its highest alert level, with more than 17,000 firefighters and support personnel on duty.

If you live or work in a fire-prone area, there are steps you should follow to increase wildfire awareness and preparedness. Most importantly, if you and your family or friends feel unsafe, don’t wait for the call to evacuate – just go!

If you need gas

The Gas Buddy app can help you locate fueling stations. If the price per gallon has not been updated over several hours, the station may be closed or out of fuel. Seeing recent updates to the price per gallon is a good indicator that the station is still selling fuel.

Driving Tips When Evacuating

  • Follow evacuation orders and routes as directed by local officials.
  • Exposed wheel rims, loose safety chains when pulling a trailer, and anything dragging on the ground can create sparks. Make sure tires are properly inflated and nothing is dragging from the vehicle or trailer.
  • In low-visibility conditions, put headlights on low beam; watch for slow-moving or parked vehicles. Use the right-side painted road line as a guide.
  • Watch for livestock and wildlife.
  • Keep windows and doors closed.
  • Do not drive or park on dry grass or brush.
  • Do not stop, park on roadway shoulders, or stand outside your vehicle.
  • If you have to park, find a space clear of vegetation, like an empty parking lot.
  • If surrounded by fire, keep the engine on with the AC set to recirculate. Close or block air vents to keep smoke out. If you don’t have a face mask, cover your face with dry fabric.
  • Get below the window level and stay as close to the ground as possible to avoid radiant heat.
  • Pack drinking water, and place important IDs, medication and paperwork in a fireproof holder.
  • Carry a fire extinguisher and know how to properly operate it.

Only four conditions are needed for wildfires to flair up anywhere in the U.S.: high temps, low humidity, high winds and drought. To know when your area is experiencing these conditions, pay attention to Red Flag Warnings. Combine those with the National Weather Service’s Fire Weather watches that will alert you to atmospheric conditions that could spark a fire.