Wildfire Preparation & Prevention Safety Tips
As you know, Californians have now come to expect wildfires every summer and fall. It's the new normal none of us wanted to confront: a warmer, drier climate, plus fuel buildup in forests and open spaces due to decades of fire suppression. That means bigger, deadlier, and more frequent fires.
Whether you're a first-time visitor or an outdoor enthusiast, check out some of these vital tips to play your part in preventing and preparing for wildfires in state parks and at home.
Staying safe when visiting state parks:
Know before you go:
Do research on the area before heading out. Check the weather forecasts, if the park is open, drought conditions, and terrain. Be aware of your own physical limitations as well. If the weather is hot, dry, and windy, avoid any activities that involve fire or sparks.
Check the status of the park you're planning to visit to find out what restrictions and guidelines are in place. Go to parks.ca.gov/ParkIndex to find out.
Create an outdoor plan:
Cell service in many state park units can be limited or nonexistent. Whether you're with a group or alone, tell someone where you're going and when you plan on returning. Ask them to notify local law enforcement if you do not return on time.
Stay on marked trails:
Do not enter closed areas, especially areas that have been impacted by wildfires. This is always required and is important for your safety and the safety of others.
Practice campfire safety:
Campfires are a leading cause of wildfires, making campfire safety essential. Make sure to build your campfire in an open location, and at least 10 feet in diameter from flammable fuels and dry vegetation.
Extinguish your campfire entirely before leaving the area. Remember to "Drown, Stir, and Feel." Drown the fire with water and stir around the fire area to smother any hot spots. Finally, carefully feel the area to ensure that it is completely cold.
Find more campfire safety tips on the Smokey Bear website.
If wildfires are burning nearby:
Check for active fires:
Check the California State Incidents webpage at parks.ca.gov/incidents to find out which parks are impacted by active wildfires.
Check the air quality:
Be aware of poor air quality when spending time outdoors near wildfires. To find more information, visit airnow.gov.
If you find yourself in a wildfire:
You may find yourself trapped in a wildfire while on foot. If possible, go to a clear area, ditch, depression on level ground, or a large water body. Lie face down and cover up your body. Use your cell phone to advise officials by calling 911.
Find more safety tips on what to do on CAL FIRE’s webpage.
Preparing for a wildfire when at home:
Pack in advance:
There may not be much time to pack supplies when there is an incoming fire. Have an emergency 'to go' supply kit ready beforehand. Check out CAL FIRE's website for a complete supply checklist.
Prepare your home for wildfires:
There are various ways to prepare your home to withstand ember attacks and minimize the likelihood of flames. Go to the National Fire Protection Association's (NFPA) website to learn what you can do to ensure your home's safety.
We hope this has been a helpful safety reminder during the wildfire season. We look forward to seeing you at California's beautiful park trails, beaches, mountains, and deserts! Stay safe and please recreate responsibly.