The terms “voluntary” and “mandatory” are often incorrectly used to describe evacuations. In Ojai Valley Fire Safe Council, law enforcement will use the terms “Evacuation Order”, “Evacuation Warning”, and “Shelter-In-Place” to alert you to the significance of the danger and provide basic instructions. It is important that all residents understand the difference between each of the evacuation instructions.
“Evacuation Order”– This means to leave now. Follow your evacuation plan and evacuate immediately. Do not delay gathering your belongings or preparing your home. Pay attention to specific instructions that will be contained in the evacuation order.
“Evacuation Warning” – Evacuate as soon as possible. A short delay to gather valuables and prepare your home may be ok. Leave if you feel unsafe. “Evacuation Warnings” may become “Evacuation Orders” if conditions change.
“Shelter-In-Place” – Stay in your current location or the safest nearby building or unburnable area. This type of direction may be required when evacuation is not necessary or is too dangerous.
All evacuation instructions provided by officials should be followed immediately for your safety.
As the fire approaches
Ensure your cell phone is fully charged
Notify an out-of-area contact of your phone number, location, and status. Update them regularly at scheduled times
Leave a note with your contact info and out-of-area contact taped inside a front window so it can be seen from outside of your home
Call neighbors to alert them to prepare
KEEP ON YOUR PERSONS:
Dress all family members in long sleeves and long pants; heavy cotton is best, no matter how hot it is
Wear full coverage goggles (sunglasses if you do not have goggles), leather gloves, and head protection
Cover faces with a dry cotton bandanna or a N95 respirator
Carry a headlamp and flashlight (even during the day)
Carry car keys, wallet, ID, cell phone, and spare battery
Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated
Put “Supply Kit” in your vehicle
Shut all windows and doors, leaving them unlocked
Shut off air conditioning and heating units
Close fireplace doors and damper
Remove flammable window shades, lightweight curtains, and close metal shutters
Leave your lights on so firefighters can see your house under smoky conditions
Gather up flammable items from the exterior of the house and bring them inside (i.e. patio furniture, children’s toys, doormats, etc.) or place them in your pool
Turn off outdoor propane tanks
Connect garden hoses to outside taps
Do not leave sprinklers on or water running – they can waste critical water pressure needed by the Fire Department
Leave exterior lights on
Disconnect electric garage door from the motor
Pull your car out of the garage if you are unable to manually open your garage door in case you lose power
If you can manually open your garage, back the car into the garage and shut the doors and windows
Keep the garage door closed until you are ready to leave
Disconnect motor on automatic gates. Leave gates open and unlocked
If you have a ladder, place it against your roof in a visible location
Seal attic and ground vents with pre-cut plywood or commercial seals
If you are trapped: Survival Tips
Alert your family and neighbors
Close all exterior doors
Shelter away from outside walls, opposite the approaching fire
Have your fire extinguisher available
Fill up your sinks and back tubs with water and have a bucket available in case you lose water pressure and need to extinguish small fires
Patrol inside your home for spot fires and extinguish them
Ensure you can exit the home if it catches fire (remember- if it is hot inside the house it is much hotter outside)
After the fire has passed, check your roof and extinguish any fires, sparks, or embers
Check inside the attic for hidden embers
Patrol your property and extinguish small fires
If there are spot fires you cannot extinguish yourself, call 9-1-1
Evacuating Your Animals
You play an important role in helping your pets stay safe in a wildfire. Make sure they are included in your family’s evacuation plan.
Bring smaller pets inside at the early signs of a wildfire – that way if an evacuation notice is issued, they will be close and you won’t have to spend time searching for them outdoors.
If an evacuation is imminent, place the pets in carriers near the front door, with extra food and water.
Many human evacuation centers cannot accept pets due to health and safety regulations. It is important to have an alternate plan for your pets if you plan on staying at a public provided shelter.