Safe Evacuation Procedures During Wildfire

Monday, June 28 2010

MOSCOW, Idaho – During wildfire, do not wait to be told to evacuate. Doing so could cost your life.

"Sixty percent of lives lost to wildland fire are of those that chose to stay and wait and see, and then evacuated too late," said Yvonne Barkley, University of Idaho associate extension forester.

Barkley's advice comes as the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise is forecasting an above normal potential for wildfire in late summer and early fall, despite the above normal amounts of precipitation this spring.

She provides these tips to help people prepare themselves and their families for emergency evacuation during wildfire.

• Gather all persons in the household together and let everyone know you are getting ready to evacuate.

• Have everyone dress for safety. Put on socks, closed-toed leather shoes or boots, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Grab a pair of leather gloves, a bandanna and a hat.

• Park vehicles in the direction you will escape. Leave keys in the ignition.

• Pack emergency kits containing clothing, food, water and valuables in your vehicle.

• Put pets in pet carriers and in a safe, accessible place, ready to load into your vehicles when you leave.

• Load horses or other livestock that will need to be evacuated.

• Check with neighbors to see if they need assistance.

• Notify others when you are leaving and where you plan to go.

Only after the family is prepared, and if there is time, Barkley suggests these additional steps:

• Look around for flammable materials lying around or against your home and move them to a safe place. Items include: patio furniture and cushions; hammocks; door mats; window boxes and planters; wicker baskets, pine cones and dried flower arrangements; newspapers; garbage cans without lids; barbecue propane tanks; brooms; and boats, campers, canoes and kayaks.

• Shut off the gas supply.

• Turn on all indoor and outdoor lights to make your house easier for firefighters to find in the dark.

• Close windows, doors, curtains and blinds.

• Cover attic and basement vents.

• Get the emergency generator ready to run any pumps.

• Place a ladder to the roof opposite the approaching fire and put a sprinkler on the roof. Wet down decks, flammable siding and lawns.

• Using aluminum foil or metal flashing, cover areas where combustible materials meet each other. Think of where snow gathers and drifts in the winter – windowsills, where the house meets the deck and corners; this is where firebrands and embers can gather and start a blaze.

More in-depth information is available on two new websites:
• eXtension Living With Fire:
• Idaho Firewise:

In addition, the complete guide, "Protecting and Landscaping Homes in the Wildland/Urban Interface," is available from the University of Idaho. It provides insight to understanding wildfire and how homes are destroyed, as well as tips to minimize home ignition potential. The publication costs $4 and is available by contacting Agricultural Publications, University of Idaho, P.O. Box 442240, Moscow, Idaho, 83844-2240, (208) 885-7982 or by e-mailing
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About the University of Idaho

Founded in 1889, the University of Idaho is the state’s flagship higher-education institution and its principal graduate education and research university, bringing insight and innovation to the state, the nation and the world. University researchers attract nearly $100 million in research grants and contracts each year; the University of Idaho is the only institution in the state to earn the prestigious Carnegie Foundation ranking for high research activity. The university’s student population includes first-generation college students and ethnically diverse scholars. Offering more than 130 degree options in 10 colleges, the university combines the strengths of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. The university is home to the Vandals, the 2009 Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl champions. For information, visit

About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho helps students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals. For information, visit