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Vacation Checklist: Wildfire Preparedness

A Red Cross volunteer and a firefighter talk while wildfires burn in the distance.
How to prepare for wildfires while away from home.

Did you know wildfires can move 14 miles an hour? Or that poorly extinguished campfires and smoking start over 80 percent of wildfires?

If you’re taking a vacation this summer, or live in a wildfire-prone area, brush up on important tips from the American Red Cross to prepare your family and stay safe.

I’m going on vacation. How can I prepare for wildfires?

  • Learn about wildfire risks in your area.
  • Download the free Red Cross Emergency App to learn more about wildfires and set up alerts for your vacation area.
  • Talk with members of your household about wildfires – how to prevent them and what to do if one occurs.
  • Select a place for family members to meet outside your neighborhood in case you cannot get home or need to evacuate.
  • Identify someone who is out of the area to contact if local phone lines are not working.
  • I’m here! What can I do to plan ahead?

  • Post emergency numbers by every phone in your rental home, or enter them into your cell phones.
  • Make a plan and practice it. Plan and practice two ways out of your neighborhood or vacation area in case your primary route is blocked.
  • Check any firewood piles around your vacation area. Firewood should be stacked at least 30 feet uphill from your home or camping spot. Clear combustible material within 20 ft. of the stack. Fire tends to travel uphill, so keep highly combustible firewood and other materials above your home or vacation area.
  • There are reports of a wildfire in the area. I should…?

  • Be ready to leave at a moment’s notice.
  • Listen to local radio and television stations for updated emergency information.
  • Always back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape.
  • Confine pets to one room or spot so that you can find them if you need to evacuate quickly.
  • Arrange for temporary housing at a friend or relative’s home outside the threatened area.
  • Keep indoor air clean by closing windows and doors to prevent outside smoke from getting in.
  • Use the recycle or re-circulate mode on the air conditioner in your home or car.
  • When smoke levels are high, do not use anything that burns and adds to indoor air pollution, such as candles, fireplaces and gas stoves.
  • Bottom line – stay alert and prepared whenever you are at home or on vacation. The free Emergency App is highly customizable and informative with alerts, vital emergency information and a “Family Safe” feature to notify loved ones that an alert has been issued in their area and check to see if they are safe. Find it in your app store by searching for American Red Cross.

    About the American Red Cross:
    The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.