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GO: Evacuate Early

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Evacuate early and safely. Follow your personal wildland fire action plan.  Doing so will support your safety AND allow firefighters to focus on fighting the fire.

Give your household the best chance of surviving a wildfire by being ready to go and evacuating early. This includes going through pre-evacuation preparation steps (only if time allows) to increase your home’s defenses, as well as creating a Wildfire Action Plan for your family.  Being ready to go also means knowing when to evacuate and what to do if you become trapped.

Take action immediately when wildfire strikes

Remember: When immediate evacuation is necessary, follow these steps as soon as possible to get ready to GO!

  1. Review your Evacuation Plan Checklist.
  2. Ensure your Emergency Supply Kit is in your vehicle.
  3. Cover-up to protect against heat and flying embers. Wear long pants, long sleeve shirt, heavy shoes/boots, cap, dry bandanna for face cover, goggles or glasses. 100% cotton is preferable.
  4. Locate your pets, place them in crates, gather pet food and supplies,  and prepare to take them with you.
  5. Review the IBHS Last Minute Evacuation Checklist if you have time (before evacuation is ordered or advised).

Learn more about Wildfire Evacuation in Marin.


When to Evacuate

Leave as soon as evacuation is recommended by fire officials to avoid being caught in fire, smoke or road congestion. Don’t wait to be ordered by authorities to leave. Evacuating early also helps firefighters keep roads clear of congestion, and lets them move more freely to do their job. In an intense wildfire, they may not have time to knock on every door. If you are advised to leave, don’t hesitate!

  • Officials will determine the areas to be evacuated and escape routes to use depending upon the fire’s location, behavior, winds, terrain, etc.
  • Law enforcement agencies are typically responsible for enforcing an evacuation order. Follow their directions promptly.
  • You will be advised of potential evacuations as early as possible. You must take the initiative to stay informed and aware. Listen to your radio/TV for announcements from law enforcement and emergency personnel.
  • You may be directed to temporary assembly areas to await transfer to a safe location.

The terms “Voluntary” and “Mandatory” are often used to describe evacuation orders, however, some local jurisdictions may use other terminology such as “Precautionary” and “Immediate Threat.”  These terms are used to alert you to the significance of the danger.

All evacuation instructions provided by officials should be followed immediately for your safety.

What to do if you become trapped

While in your vehicle:

  • Stay calm.
  • Park your vehicle in an area clear of vegetation.
  • Close all vehicle windows and vents.
  • Cover yourself with a wool or cotton blanket or jacket. • Lie on
  • Lie on vehicle floor.
  • Use your cell phone to advise officials—Call 911. 

While on foot:

  • Stay calm.
  • Go to an area clear of vegetation, a ditch or depression on level ground if possible.
  • Lie face down and cover up your body.
  • Use your cell phone to advise officials—Call 911. 

While in your home: 

  • Stay calm and keep your family together.
  • Call 911 and inform authorities of your location. 
  • Fill sinks and tubs with cold water. • Keep doors and windows closed, but unlocked. • Stay inside your house. • Stay away from outside walls and windows.
  • Keep doors and windows closed, but unlocked. • Stay inside your house. • Stay away from outside walls and windows.
  • Stay inside your house. • Stay away from outside walls and windows.
  • Stay away from outside walls and windows.


Fire Access Roads (often called Fire Roads) are designed to allow firefighters to access areas where they may need to fight wildfires.  "Accessing" a fire is the opposite of "evacuating." 

Unpaved FIRE ROADS are NOT safe or viable evacuation routes during wildfires!  Stay on pavement, in your car if possible, and evacuate downhill towards major roads and town unless instructed otherwise by emergency personnel.  Never drive towards a locked gate or plan to escape via a fire road.  Unmaintained vegetation in wild areas served by fire access roads is extremely dangerous.  It is almost always safer to stay on pavement, in your car.

FIRESafe MARIN   |   P.O. Box 2831  |   San Anselmo, CA 94979   |   info@firesafemarin.org

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