What To Do If Trapped: Fire Entrapment Checklist


You are strongly urged to evacuate when advised. If you are in doubt, just get out.  Due to the unpredictability of wildland fire there is always the possibility that you may become cut-off from escape and trapped at your home, so we have developed a guide that may help save your life.

Remember, one of the first things to go is electricity, so you won’t have the garden hose to help you if you are on a well without a backup power supply.

It is strongly recommended you evacuate whenever possible.   During a wildfire event, there will NOT be a fire engine available to protect every home.  Defending your property from wildfire may take many hours of strenuous activity.  You must be physically and emotionally able to provide for your safety during the emergency.  Most people are not.  You may be placed in a situation that demands you stay due to the inability to safely evacuate.

  1. REMAIN CALM – an approaching wildfire will be extremely loud, create extreme heat and smoke and likely evoke fear and panic as it reaches your home.  The duration of the fire front varies by vegetation type and density.  Generally, grassland vegetation environments typically burn for 10 minutes, brush lands for 20 minutes and timber for over an hour.
  2. Before the fire front arrives, identify SAFETY ZONES.  A simple definition of a SAFETY ZONE is: an area used for escaping a wildfire that is clear of flammable materials.  Examples include irrigated pastures or golf courses, parking lots, large ponds and any other area that will not support combustion.
  3. Your home will serve as your primary SHELTER from the fire front.
  4. BEFORE the fire arrives:  dress in protective clothing (long sleeve cotton shirt, heavy pants, vibrum soled boots, shut all windows and doors to prevent smoke and flames from entering the house; move furniture away from windows to help prevent embers that enter the house through a broken window from igniting furniture inside of home; place a ladder next to home; fill bathtub and buckets for putting out small fires; cover your face with a cotton handkerchief to protect yourself from smoke inhalation; place wet blankets or towels around window and door edges inside the house to stop smoke and embers from entering.
  5. BEFORE the fire arrives OUTSIDE the home:  check water supplies around your home and fill any available containers; remove garden furniture, doormats and other loose items that could trap embers; hose down the structure and 30 feet of vegetation surrounding it; block downspouts and fill rain gutters with water; actively patrol your property for any embers blowing in from the fire front and extinguish with wet mops, buckets, backpack sprayers or fire pump; turn on your irrigation system if available; continue to monitor media outlets for updates on the fire.
  6. DURING the fire:  go inside the home when it becomes too hot to stay outside.  The skin on your ears and hands will alert you that conditions have become too hot to survive outside.  When you feel it has become too hot for you, go inside to take shelter.  Take all fire fighting equipment inside with you, including hoses, rakes, shovels and water supplies.  Stay inside your house while the fire front passes around the house and look out for burning embers landing inside the home.  Extinguish any spot fires.  Do not shelter in a part of your home that does not allow you to see the progress of the fire.  If your home catches fire and you are unable to extinguish what has now become a structure fire – go outside onto burnt ground after the fire front has passed (or go to your auxiliary safety zone.)  Keep well away from the radiant heat that is being generated from the structure fire.  Do not return into the house for any reason.
  7. AFTER the fire front has passed:  continue to wear your personal protective clothing; after main fire front passes, go outside again as soon as it is safe; inspect the perimeter of the home to extinguish any spot fires; water down the outside of the home and vegetation; continue to look for small fires from burning embers for many hours after the fire front has passed.
  8. LOOK for burning embers:  inside and on the roof; under the floor boards; under house crawl spaces; on decks and patios; window ledges and door sills; roof lines and gutters; outdoor furniture; doormats; garden beds and mulch; wood piles; sheds or other outbuildings.
  9. COMMUNICATE your status to your out of area contact so your family knows you are safe.

Work with your neighbors and your community to prepare for wildfire.  It is not a matter of IF another WILDFIRE will happen in Nevada County, but rather WHEN and WHERE it will strike.  BE PREPARED YEAR ROUND.