Trapped At Home
If you find you cannot leave your home, stay calm. Panic is your worst enemy at this time. Stop and assess the situation. Begin by prioritizing your and your family’s needs.
If you can, reinforce your firebreak. Identify a vulnerable area near your home. Taking as many people and tools as is possible, begin to clear it thoroughly. The section needs to be at least 3’ wide for it to be effective.
Be methodical. Rip out all vegetation and remove any flammables. This includes the roots. Work until the area is clear. Keep watch and be ready to leave when necessary.
If your firebreak is already sufficient, turn your attention to other fire retardant measures. Take a hose and wet down any exposed and potentially flammable areas. This includes the roof of your home as well as the top of any outbuildings. Hose down fences, trellises and any other wooden structures and outdoor décor.
If you have a pond or swimming pool, fill it with water. The same applies to hot tubs or even garbage cans. This may help slow down the advance of the wildfire.
Inside your home, you can employ a number of tactics to help keep your family safe. Cover any vents and close your windows. If you have fire repellant shutter close them. Locate all other openings and cover them with flame retardant plywood or duct tape them tight.
To protect your home and everyone in it, you need to makes sure to shut off all natural gas, oil, and propane fuel lines. You also have to move anything and everything combustible away from the windows. This includes drapes, furniture, knick-knacks, etc. The family should also stay away from the windows.
People need to be alert in case a spark lands inside the house. Place family members to watch vulnerable spots such as the chimney. Make sure the pets are confined to one room. Place someone inside with them to ensure their safety and to prevent them from panicking.
Be sure the fire department knows the situation and the location of your home. Keep in contact with them so you, and they, can be quickly made aware of any changes— positive or negative. Being on top of the state of affairs will help you survive.
Finally, to protect your valuable papers and photos if you don’t have a fire-proof safe, fill your bathtubs. Place the papers in two layers of quick seal plastic bags (like Ziploc freezer bags), squeeze out the air as you seal them up, and submerge the bags in the water. This protects them from errant sparks, smoke damage, and heat combustion.
Above all, don’t panic. Fire fighters have many stories of people surviving in their homes even when fire destroyed everything around them because they proactively protected themselves in their present location instead of running out in a panic into a wildfire on the move.