Wildfires and Your Home

Wildfires and Your Home

Many rural homes exist in areas that are at an increased risk of being affected by wildfires. Preparing before wildfire situations can help protect your home and minimize damage from a wildfire.

Use this checklist to get started preparing your home before a wildfire. Learn what to do during and after a wildfire situation.

Wildfires and Your Home [PDF]

Determine the risk of wildfire in your area

Active Weather Alerts and Forecasts
Map showing active weather alerts and forcast maps.
National Weather Service
Fire Weather and Current Hazards
Map showing current large fire incidents
USDA Forest Service

Know the Terminology

Fire Weather Watch: issued when the potential for severe fire weather exists in the near future – usually in 12 and 24 hours – but sometimes days in advance.

Red Flag Warning: issued to indicate the imminent danger of severe fire weather with a relatively high probability of occurrence.

Before a Wildfire

  • Build a defensible space around your home.
    • See the factsheet and resources listed on this page for more information.
  • Maintain proper insurance.

During a Wildfire

  • Listen to the radio or television for situation developments, evacuation instructions and routes, and road closures.
  • If there is time, and no risk to human life:
    • Close all entrances, windows, or other openings to your home.
    • Turn off any home fuel sources (e.g., propane) at the source.
    • If you have a sprinkler system, turn it on.
  • After evacuating, inform firefighters about any potentially hazardous materials on your property (e.g, propane, diesel, pressurized cylinders)
  • If no evacuation is ordered, shelter-in-place and be prepared to extinguish any fires.

After a Wildfire

  • Do not return home until authorities tell you it is safe and allow you into an evacuation zone.
  • When returning home, use extreme caution when entering burned areas.
  • Use caution when moving damaged structures or material.
  • Check often for any sparks or embers that may reignite.
  • Document any damage to your home.
  • Photograph damage to your property for insurance purposes.
  • Contact your insurance agent.
  • When cleaning your home, wear a dust mask to minimize breathing dust or ash particles.
  • Discard any food that has been exposed to heat, smoke, or soot.
  • Be prepared for disruption of services (e.g., electric, water) for an extended period of time.

For more information, see the "Wildfires and your Home" factsheet above.

More Wildfire Preparedness Factsheets

Additional Resources

Before a Wildfire
Website with links to wildfire preparedness information.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Firewise Tips: Checklist for Homeowners
Tips to help reduce the risk of your home and property becoming fuel for a wildfire.
National Fire Protection Association
How to Have a Firewise Home
Wildfire risk reduction steps for your home and property.
National Fire Protection Association
How to Prepare for a Wildfire
Resource guide with information to prepare for wildfire situations.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
One Less Spark-One Less Wildfire
Website with tips to help prevent wildfires.
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
Reducing Fire Risk on your Forest Property
Guidelines to help reduce a fire's potential damage to your home.
Oregeon State University Extension Service
Tips for High Fire Danger Days
How to prepare for a Red Flag Day.
National Fire Protection Association
Wildfire Preparedness: Home and Landscape
Resources for preparing your home before a wildfire.
National Fire Protection Association
Wildfires
Website with resources for preparing before a wildfire, actions during a wildfire, and how to recover after a wildfire.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Wildfires
Webpage with information on what to do before, during, and after a wildfire.
Ready.gov
Wildland Fire Resources
Website with a variety of resources on ecology of fires, preparedness of homes and communities, recovery after wildfires.
University of Idaho Extension
Wildland Fire Safety Tip Sheet
Tip sheet for wildfire safety.
National Fire Protection Association