Due to San Diego’s seasonal Santa Ana winds and dry vegetation, it is not a question of if, but when the next major wildfire will occur. Advance planning and preparation is the best defense and enables you to protect your family, yourself, and home in a responsible way.

Inmates from Oak Glen Fire Camp in Riverside retreat to higher ground as the flames start to move close while they work to control the fire near Oriole Court in Carlsbad, Calif., Wednesday, May 14, 2014. Thousands were asked to evacuate their homes in Carlsbad after the blaze erupted at about 10:34 a.m. Wednesday and spread through rapidly heavy brush before jumping into residential areas. (AP Photo/U-T San Diego, Hayne Palmour IV)

Prepare for a Wildfire Emergency

-Ensure that your home always has a fire extinguisher on hand and that your family is properly instructed on how to handle one.

-Teach each member of your family where the electric, water, and gas shut-off controls are and how to properly use them in a time of need.

-Create a family disaster plan that should include communication plans, meeting locations, and a safe evacuation route for your family and pets.

-Practice and plan several different evacuations routes with each family member regularly to limit any confusion.

-Assemble an emergency supply kit and keep an extra kit in each vehicle.

Safeguard Your Home

Increase your home’s chance of survival by taking the necessary measures to safeguard your home. Some of these measures include:

-Hardening your home with fire-resistant materials.

-Ditching your single-paned windows for dual-paned windows.

-Ensuring that each level of your home has a working smoke detector.

-Creating defensible space around your home. Trees should be cut back at least 10 feet from the home and other structures.

-Removing dead leaves and pine needles from the roof, gutters, and yard.

-Keeping grass mowed down to four inches or less.

-Separating plants and shrubs to keep fire from spreading.

Go- Leave Early!

Most importantly, wildfire-related deaths occur because people wait too long to leave their home. Give your family the best chance of surviving by leaving your home early.

If time allows, do the following things before evacuating your home.

-Leave all windows and doors closed, but unlocked.

-Move furniture away from windows and doors, to the center of the room.

-Turn off your A/C and pilot lights.

-Turn off gas and propane tanks.

-Turn off your sprinklers.

-Leave lights inside and outside of your home on.

-Cover attic and ground vents with covers or plywood.

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Finally, monitor your local media outlets during high fire danger days for information. Windy, dry, and hot conditions create the perfect environment for a wildfire.

For more information about wildfire safety, consult the Ready, Set, Go! guide from San Diego Fire.