Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Wildfire Evacuation Plan Is More Than You May Think

Everyone living in a wooded area should have an evacuation plan. It should be discussed periodically, and parts of it should even be rehearsed.

An evacuation plan is more than a description of how to get out of the house. 

A complete plan includes:

An escape route. 
A family meeting place. 
Instructions for children. 
Steps to make your house as fireproof as possible. 
Plans for a fast getaway. 
Provisions for pets. 

Generally, a family forced by wildfire to evacuate will do so together, so the escape route will be the same for all. It is important to establish a meeting place in case all family members are not home when the evacuation takes place.

Children who are home alone should have firm instructions to leave the home at the first threat of danger. They should report to the prearranged meeting place and stay there until they hear from you. Should they encounter a threatening situation upon arriving home, their instructions should be to go directly to the meeting place.

Depending on how much time you have before an approaching wildfire could likely reach your vicinity, here are some things you can do to help fireproof your home, ensure a fast getaway, and take care of pets.

Wildfire Evacuation Plan

 Outside the House

Inside the House

Place combustible items (outdoor furniture, etc.) in the garage, house or barn.

Seal up attic and ground vents and windows (if storm shutters are not present) with precut plywood to keep out sparks.

Connect garden hoses to outside taps; equip them with spray nozzle guns. Have enough hose to reach any area of the house and nearby out-buildings.

Turn off fuel supplies by closing the service valve at the tank or meter. Extinguish all pilot lights.

Place sprinklers on the roof and near all above-ground fuel tanks or meter. DO NOT turn on the water until the fire is near in order to conserve water.

If you have a portable gasoline powered pump to take water from a swimming pool, tank or pond, make sure it is operational and in place.

Close all windows and doors to prevent sparks from blowing inside and to prevent drafts.

Open the damper on fireplaces to stabilize inside-outside pressure, but close fireplace screens to keep sparks from igniting the interior of the house.

Turn on a light in each room to make the house more visible in heavy smoke.

Close all venetian blinds and heavy drapes to keep out heat and to provide safety in case heat or wind breaks windows.

Remove lightweight curtains to prevent them from being ignited by radiated heat.

Move flammable furniture away from windows and sliding doors to reduce the possibility of ignition.

Place valuable papers and memorabilia inside the car for quick departure.

Confine pets to one room so they can be easily located.

Back the car into the garage and roll up the windows.

If there is an automatic garage door opener, disconnect it so you can still get the car out if a power failure occurs.

Close all garage doors and windows.

Keep your radio tuned to a local station for fire reports and evacuation information.

 Plan Ahead. Take action before a fire threatens your home.

A Partnership for the People: 
Florida Forest Service 
Florida Fire Chiefs Association
Florida Fire Marshals Assoc.
Florida State Firemen's Assoc.
Florida State Fire Marshal
International Society of Fire Service Instructors, Florida Chapter