Prevention & Preparedness
Prevention & Preparedness
Protect Your Home

Plan Ahead for Wildfire

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We can’t stress the importance of a personal emergency plan enough. 

All San Diego County residents are affected by wildfires. They have and will continue to burn into urban areas such as Scripps Ranch, Rancho Bernardo, and Escondido. Below are suggestions to help you prepare your home and family in case a wildfire 

Prepare Your Property

How Did This Home Survive?

  • Keep your property cleared of brush and other burnable fuel.
  • Maintain a 100-foot defensible space around your structures. 
  • Have escape routes out of your home and your neighborhood.
  • Prepare a “go bag” and know what valuables you would take if you had to leave your home quickly.
  • Have an inventory that includes photos or video, and cost information of your possessions.
  • Know where you would meet and how you would communicate with your family.
  • Have adequate fire insurance to rebuild after a fire.

Protect Your Home From Embers


Photo courtesy of Kevin Pack, K.E. Pack Photography & Cal-Fire.

Residents have lost their homes to wildfire despite having a defensible space. Be aware of the risk of embers. Embers can travel great distances with wind or turbulence caused by the fire itself. These embers can ignite brush or homes which are not near the main part of the fire.

Preventing a small fire from becoming a major inferno:

  • Roofs: replace wooden roofs, plug openings in roof coverings, such as the end of barrel tiles, remove debris such as leaves, pines needles, etc from your roof and rain gutters.
  • Vents: cover attic/eave/foundation vents with 1/8 inch wire mesh, or staple in aluminum foil several layers thick.
  • Windows and skylights: replace single pane non-tempered glass with double pane tempered glass. In case of fire, close all windows and doors.
  • Fireplaces: Install an approved spark arrester on chimneys and make sure wood piles are at least 30 feet from your home.
  • Decks: Make sure there is metal flashing between a wood deck and the house; make sure the deck and under the deck is clear of debris. Remove patio furniture, door mats, BBQ propane tanks, etc. and place in your house or garage if a fire is threatening.
  • Flowerbeds and boxes: remove wood flower boxes from beneath windows if a fire is threatening. Flower beds should not have wood mulch or dead plants, leaves etc.
  • Vehicles: Close all windows and back your car into the garage or leave it away from the house, and make sure the garage door fits as tightly as possible to the door frame to minimize gaps. If you have an automatic garage door opener, be sure you can open them manually if you lose electricity in case you need to evacuate.
  • Fences and trash cans: make sure all wood is in good condition and use non-combustible material next to your house and use metal trash cans with tight fitting lids.

Plan an Escape Route Out of the House

  • Plan your escape from wildfireMake sure everyone knows two exit routes out of the house in case one route is blocked by fire.
  • Make sure exit routes are cleaned of toys,  plants, lights, etc. every night.
  • If there is a fire, get everybody out safely, then call 9-1-1 for help. Do not stay inside to call 9-1-1 or go back inside once everybody is safely out, as smoke, not heat is the greatest danger.
  • Also make sure that you have two exit routes out of the community, in case the fire grows beyond the house, and that you have a pre-planned meeting place in case you are separated.

Pet Fire Safety

Protect your pets from fireEach year, 40,000 pets die in house fires and 1,000 house fires are started by pets. Here are tips to consider in protecting your pets from fires.

  • Extinguish open flames (candles, stove, or fireplace) – pets are naturally curious and will investigate. Use flameless candles.
  • Pet proof your home – look for loose wires, extension cords, stove knobs, or lamps that could be knocked onto the carpet.
  • Keep young pets confined in a safe place.
  • Have a pet fire rescue window sticker – letting firefighters know how many pets you have and keep the information updated.
  • Have an escape route and plan for you and your pets – pets will be terrified in a fire and go to where they feel safe, know where those places are.
  • Always evacuate your pets on a leash or in a pet carrier – pets panic with fire and smoke and can bolt away.
  • Leave an outside door open – evacuate and then call your pet from outside.
  • Keep outdoor pet houses and pens away from brushy areas.
  • Use smoke detectors to alert everybody, and a monitoring service to alert firefighters.
  • Keep pets near entrances when you are gone with collars on and leashes nearby.

Your main priority should be getting yourself out of a building. More pets get saved if you don’t try to save them yourself. Firefighters will not help any pets until all people are out. Only then will firefighters will be able to look for pets, increasing their chances of survival.