Fire

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Yolo County is susceptible to fires. There are steps you can take to minimize the risk of fire burning your home.

How do I prepare for a fire?
What do I do in case of a fire?
What do I do after a fire?
Tips for poor air quality during a fire

Fire Preparedness

  • Review our Emergency Preparedness page regarding creating a plan, building an emergency kit
    • Plan several escape routes away from your home - by car and by foot.
    • Talk to your neighbors about wildfire safety. Plan how the neighborhood could work together after a wildfire. Make a list of your neighbors' skills such as medical or technical. Consider how you could help neighbors who have special needs such as elderly or disabled persons. Make plans to take care of children who may be on their own if parents can't get home.
  • Inside your home
    • Install smoke detectors: More than 50% of residential fires take place at night; a smoke detector will wake you up. Position detectors on the ceiling just outside each bedroom. If you have a multi-level home, install a detector on each level. If you sleep with your bedroom door closed, place an additional detector inside your bedroom. Test your detector each month and change the batteries twice a year. A good time to change batteries is in the spring and fall when you change your clocks due to daylight savings time.
    • Portable fire extinguishers: Fire extinguishers can help you put out or contain small fires until the fire department arrives, but they must be used properly and under the right conditions. Be sure the fire extinguisher is listed and approved by an independent testing laboratory. Make sure each member of your family can operate the extinguisher and knows where it's located. Fire extinguishers need annual maintenance and must be recharged after every use. Extinguishers are identified by the type(s) of fire they put out. These types are:
      Type A - Wood or cloth fires
      Type B - Flammable liquid fires
      Type C - Electrical fires
      Type D - Flammable metal fires
    • Install a dual-sensor smoke alarm on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms; test monthly and change the batteries at least once each year.
      Keep handy household items that can be used as fire tools: a rake, axe, handsaw or chain saw, bucket and shovel.
    • Consider installing protective shutters or heavy fire-resistant drapes.
    • Post fire emergency telephone numbers.
  • Outside your home
    • Defensible Spac: Clearing brush and other flammable materials in an area 30 feet from your house is critical to efforts to protect your home. This includes trimming trees back at least 10 feet from your chimney. Reducing fire fuels out to 100 feet from your home is also part of providing good defensible space around your home. CAL FIRE has a flyer that discusses defensible space.
    • Display your address: Be sure your address can be seen from the road. If your home is set back or screened by trees, prominently display your address where your driveway meets the road. The fire department needs to quickly find you. 
    • Design and landscape your home with wildfire safety in mind. Select materials and plants that can help contain fire rather than fuel it.
    • Use fire-resistant or noncombustible materials on the roof and exterior structure of the dwelling, or treat wood or combustible material used in roofs, siding, decking or trim with fire-retardant chemicals evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
    • Plant fire-resistant shrubs and trees. For example, hardwood trees are less flammable than pine, evergreen, eucalyptus or fir trees.
    • Regularly clean roof and gutters.
    • Inspect chimneys at least twice a year. Clean them at least once a year. Keep the dampers in good working order. Equip chimneys and stovepipes with a spark arrester that meets the requirements of National Fire Protection Association Standard 211. (Contact your local fire department for exact specifications.)
    • Use 1/8-inch mesh screen beneath porches, decks, floor areas, and the home itself. Also, screen openings to floors, roof and attic.
    • Keep a ladder that will reach the roof.
    • Install freeze-proof exterior water outlets on at least two sides of the home and near other structures on the property. Install additional outlets at least 50 feet from the home.
    • Consider obtaining a portable gasoline powered pump in case electrical power is cut off.
  • Ensure adequate accessibility by large fire vehicles to your property.
  • Identify water sources
    • Identify and maintain an adequate outside water source such as a small pond, cistern, well, swimming pool, or hydrant.
    • Have a garden hose that is long enough to reach any area of the home and other structures on the property.
  • Follow Local Burning Laws
    • Before burning debris in a wooded area, make sure you notify local authorities and obtain a burning permit.
    • Use an approved incinerator with a safety lid or covering with holes no larger than ¾ inch.
    • Create at least a 10-foot clearing around the incinerator before burning debris.
    • Have a fire extinguisher or garden hose on hand when burning debris.
    • Be careful outdoors
    • DO NOT dispose of hot coals or logs in trash cans.
    • Be careful working outdoors, especially when using power tools or machinery that produce sparks or that generate heat.

During a Wildfire

  • If you become trapped in a fire, crawl low towards your exit and keep your head down. Smoke and heat rise, so cleaner air is near the floor. Have two safe exits from every room and a designated meeting place outside, so you can be sure everyone is out. If your clothes catch fire, STOP, DROP & ROLL. Call 911. After exiting your burning home, call 911. Fire can move quickly, so get to a safe area before calling. When calling, be prepared to give the address, cross street and if anybody is trapped or injured. Stay on the line to answer any additional questions the dispatcher may have.
  • If advised to evacuate, do so immediately. Take your disaster supply kit, lock your home and choose a route away from the fire hazard. Watch for changes in the speed and direction of the fire and smoke. Tell someone when you left and where you are going. Fire can spread very rapidly, blocking exits and creating dangerous smoky conditions.
  • If you see a wildfire and haven't recieved evacuation orders yet, call 9-1-1. Don't assume that someone else has already called. Describe the location of the fire, speak slowly and clearly, and answer any questions asked by the dispatcher.
  • If you are not ordered to evacute, and have time to prepare your home, FEMA recommends you take the following actions:
    • Arrange temporary housing at a friend or relative’s home outside the threatened area in case you need to evacuate.
    • Wear protective clothing when outside – sturdy shoes, cotton or woolen clothes, long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, gloves and a handkerchief to protect your face.
    • Gather fire tools such as a rake, axe, handsaw or chainsaw, bucket and shovel.
    • Close outside attic, eaves and basement vents, windows, doors, pet doors, etc. Remove flammable drapes and curtains. Close all shutters, blinds or heavy non-combustible window coverings to reduce radiant heat.
    • Close all doors inside the house to prevent draft. Open the damper on your fireplace, but close the fireplace screen.
    • Shut off any natural gas, propane or fuel oil supplies at the source.
    • Connect garden hoses to outdoor water faucet and fill any pools, hot tubs, garbage cans, tubs or other large containers with water.
    • Place lawn sprinklers on the roof and near above-ground fuel tanks. Leave sprinklers on and dowsing these strutures as long as possible.
    • If you have gas-powered pumps for water, make sure they are fueled and ready.
    • Place a ladder against the house in clear view.
    • Disconnect any automatic garage door openers so that doors can still be opened by hand if the power goes out. Close all garage doors.
    • Place valuable papers, mementos and anything "you can't live without" inside the car in the garage, ready for quick departure. Any pets still with you should also be put in the car.
    • Place valuables that will not be damaged by water in a pool or pond.
    • Move flammable furniture into the center of the residence away from the windows and sliding-glass doors.
    • Turn on outside lights and leave a light on in every room to make the house more visible in heavy smoke

Survival in a Vehicle
This is dangerous and should only be done in an emergency, but you can survive the firestorm if you stay in your car. It is much less dangerous than trying to run from a fire on foot.

  • Roll up windows and close air vents. Drive slowly with headlights on. Watch for other vehicles and pedestrians. Do not drive through heavy smoke.
  • If you have to stop, park away from the heaviest trees and brush. Turn headlights on and ignition off. Roll up windows and close air vents.
  • Get on the floor and cover up with a blanket or coat.
  • Stay in the vehicle until the main fire passes.
  • Stay in the car. Do not run! Engine may stall and not restart. Air currents may rock the car. Some smoke and sparks may enter the vehicle. Temperature inside will increase. Metal gas tanks and containers rarely explode.

If Caught in the Open

  • The best temporary shelter is in a sparse fuel area. On a steep mountainside, the back side is safer. Avoid canyons, natural "chimneys" and saddles.
  • If a road is nearby, lie face down along the road cut or in the ditch on the uphill side. Cover yourself with anything that will shield you from the fire's heat.
  • If hiking in the back country, seek a depression with sparse fuel. Clear fuel away from the area while the fire is approaching and then lie face down in the depression and cover yourself. Stay down until after the fire passes!

After a Wildfire
The following are guidelines for different circumstances in the period following a fire:

  • If you have been told to evacuate or you feel it is unsafe to remain in your home go to a designated public shelter  Text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (example: shelter 12345)
  • If you are with burn victims, or are a burn victim yourself, call 9-1-1 or seek help immediately; cool and cover burns to reduce chance of further injury or infection
  • If you remained at home, check the roof immediately after the fire danger has passed. Put out any roof fires, sparks or embers. Check the attic for hidden burning sparks
  • For several hours after the fire, maintain a "fire watch." Re-check for smoke and sparks throughout the house
  • If you have evacuated, do not enter your home until fire officials say it is safe
  • If a building inspector has placed a color-coded sign on the home, do not enter it until you get more information, advice and instructions about what the sign means and whether it is safe to enter your home
  • If you must leave your home because a building inspector says the building is unsafe, ask someone you trust to watch the property during your absence
  • Use caution when entering burned areas as hazards may still exist, including hot spots, which can flare up without warning
  • If you detect heat or smoke when entering a damaged building, evacuate immediately
  • If you have a safe or strong box, do not try to open it. It can hold intense heat for several hours. If the door is opened before the box has cooled, the contents could burst into flames
  • Avoid damaged or fallen power lines, poles and downed wires
  • Watch for ash pits and mark them for safety—warn family and neighbors to keep clear of the pits also
  • Watch animals closely and keep them under your direct control. Hidden embers and hot spots could burn your pets’ paws or hooves
  • Follow public health guidance on safe cleanup of fire ash and safe use of masks
  • Wet debris down to minimize breathing dust particles
  • Wear leather gloves and heavy soled shoes to protect hands and feet
  • Cleaning products, paint, batteries and damaged fuel containers need to be disposed of properly to avoid risk
  • Discard any food that has been exposed to heat, smoke or soot
  • Do NOT use water that you think may be contaminated to wash dishes, brush teeth, prepare food, wash hands, make ice or make baby formula
  • Remain calm. Pace yourself. You may find yourself in the position of taking charge of other people. Listen carefully to what people are telling you, and deal patiently with urgent situations first

A fire can lead to poor air quality. For more tips go here.

The following websites have additional information:

FireWise
Fire Safe Council
CAL FIRE
Smokey Bear (for kids)
National Weather Service - Sacramento