Fire evacuation - What you need to know

During wildfire season, you may be forced to evacuate your home or business. People are your first priority. Most fire evacuations provide at least a three-hour notice. Take proactive steps before and during an evacuation to reduce anxiety and avoid injuries. You can also make your facility more fire resistant. Visit for fire status information and for your area’s drought conditions.

Before the evacuation
  • Coordinate with the American Red Cross, FEMA, and other emergency agencies to give them the locations of your evacuation sites.
  • Prepare and post route maps for each site, including alternate routes. With a large fire, you may need to use “Plan B.”
  • Consider forming a cooperative agreement with another site to share resources and serve as an evacuation site.
  • Work with your regional Forest Service to train staff on emergency procedures during offsite trips, such as trail rides and hikes. Train staff to avoid areas such as closed-in box canyons during fires. Visit for training information and resources.
  • Identify key equipment to be evacuated, including computers.
  • Stock a four-day supply of water and easily-prepared food.
During the evacuation
  • Explain your evacuation procedures. Arrange for people to communicate with their families.
  • Identify special medical needs and gather emergency equipment and necessities, including trauma supplies for ready access.
  • Designate enough vehicles to evacuate everyone safely.
  • Equip staff with emergency communications equipment (cell phones, whistles).
  • Load key equipment, food, and water.
  • Warn firefighters of underground fuel storage or LP gas tanks before you leave.
  • If you have horses or livestock, consider evacuating them or setting them loose in safe areas.
  • For horses, consider adding a two-day supply of feed.
Filing claims
  • Gather important records, which may include your computer.
  • Using a video or disposable camera, photograph buildings, interiors, and contents to document what was lost in the fire.
  • Making your facility fire resistant
  • Wet down buildings and roofs.
  • Have qualified personnel cut down trees in the fire path.
  • Using qualified staff, bulldoze a firebreak, or cut field grass as short as possible.
  • Remove brush and dry vegetation near buildings.
  • Ask qualified associates to disconnect and move LP gas tanks to a safer location, such as a gravel lot, or follow the manufacturer's instructions to empty the tanks.
The information provided in this article is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as all encompassing, or suitable for all situations, conditions, and environments. Please contact us at or your attorney if you have any questions. The article may not be linked to, copied, reproduced, republished, posted, or distributed in any way by non-policyholders of Markel®, without permission.