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What to Do If a Wildfire Threatens

A Red Cross volunteer and a firefighter talk while wildfires burn in the distance.

Wildfire season is in full swing across the country. According to the National Interagency Coordination Center (NICC), almost 20 large fires are burning now and more than 100 new fires have been reported.

The American Red Cross is helping people in California impacted by several fires burning in the Golden State and offers safety tips on how to better protect yourself and your loved ones from a wildfire.


  • Learn about wildfire risks in your area or the region where you are planning to vacation.
  • Download the free Red Cross Emergency App to learn more about wildfires and set up alerts.
  • 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.
  • Post emergency numbers by every phone, 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.
  • 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.

  • 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.

    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.

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