This year is already shaping up to be a dangerous one when it comes to wildfires.
More than 300,000 acres have burned across California this year, already surpassing 2019’s yearly total —270,000 acres, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Thousands have been evacuated across Northern California as more than 360 blazes — sparked by an onslaught of lightning strikes in the area — continue to spread, according to the New York Times.
Officials say Californians need to be prepared to evacuate.
“My recommendation is that all the citizens in California be ready to go if there is a wildfire,” Cal Fire spokeswoman Lynnette Round, told the East Bay Times. “Residents have to have their bags packed up with your nose facing out your driveway so you can leave quickly. Everybody should be ready to go, especially if you’re in a wildfire area.”
How else can you prepare for an evacuation? Here’s what experts say:
Assemble an emergency supply kit
You shouldn’t wait for evacuation orders to put together a bag of emergency essentials, Cal Fire said.
Your emergency kit should be assembled as soon as possible and include essentials such as masks or face coverings, plenty of water and non-perishable food, prescription medications, any necessary eyeglasses or contacts and a change of clothes.
Be sure to include a map with at least two marked evacuation routes, a first aid kit, an extra set of car keys, cash, credit cards, copies of documents such as birth certificates and passports, a flashlight and a battery-operated radio, Cal Fire said.
A backpack is an ideal bag for your kit, the agency said, and food and water should be kept in a tub for easy transport. Your emergency supply kit should always be easily accessible. You should also keep an extra in your car, Cal Fire said.
Make sure you have a plan of action
Cal Fire recommends making sure all members of your household are aware of your wildfire plan of ahead of time, which should include a designated meeting place outside the fire zone, and several escape routes out of your home and community.
Everyone in a household should also know how to operate a fire extinguisher, the agency said.
Households should also designate a person who lives outside the area to be a point of contact in case family members get separated or cell systems are overloaded, the agency said.
You should also be familiar with your community’s emergency response plan, according to Cal Fire.
Sign up for emergency alerts
Make sure you’re signed up for your community’s emergency warning system, Ready.gov said.
You should also be able to receive Emergency Alert System warnings, the agency said. A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Weather Radio is also able to deliver alerts.
You should also keep close watch on air quality warnings.
Prepare your home
Before leaving your home, close all your window and doors, but don’t lock them, Cal Fire said. Be sure to remove anything flammable such as curtains or window shades and close any metal shutters.
Furniture that is flammable should be moved away from windows and doors to the center of the room, according to the agency. You should also shutoff your air conditioning and turn off gas at the meter as well as any pilot lights.
Be sure to leave your lights on to make it easier for firefighters to see your house if conditions are smoky, Cal Fire said.
Outside, be sure to turn off propane tanks, move BBQ appliances away from your home and place a ladder at the corner of your house for firefighters. Leave exterior lights on, as well.
At least 30 feet from your home, create a fire-resistant zone that is free of anything flammable, such as leaves or debris, Ready.gov said.
Don’t forget your pets
Be sure to make sure your pets are nearby and consider moving any farm animals to safe locations before you’re forced to evacuate, Cal Fire said.
Those with pets should also make sure they have plenty of food and water for their pets in their emergency supply kit.
Leave your home as soon as officials recommend evacuation — don’t wait until it’s an order, Cal Fire said.
If you feel threatened and there has been no evacuation order, go anyway, according to the agency.
Be sure to keep an eye on your television or an ear to your radio for evacuation announcements, the agency said. Officials will determine which areas to evacuate as well as escape routes, according to Cal Fire.
You should follow all law enforcement directives quickly, the agency said.