Maybe there were evacuation orders that you failed to heed. Or maybe you didn’t get any warnings at all, and suddenly find yourself trapped by a fast-moving wildfire.
Either way, the choices you make when an inferno approaches could help save your life.
Here’s what you should do depending on your location, courtesy of Cal Fire:
If you’re in your car:
— Stay calm and call 911.
— Park your vehicle in an area clear of vegetation.
— Close all vehicle windows and vents.
— If you have a cotton or wool blanket or jacket, cover yourself with it. Why? “To try and deflect some of the radiant heat off of you,” Cal Fire Deputy Chief Scott McLean said.
— Lie on the floor of your vehicle.
If you’re at home:
— Keep your family together and call 911.
— Fill sinks and tubs with cold water. “As a fire comes through, you will more than likely lose power, which in turn will cause the pump from your well not to function,” McLean said. “This is a way to stock up on water.”
— Keep doors and windows closed but unlocked.
— Stay inside your house.
— Stay away from outside walls and windows.
If you’re stuck outside:
— Call 911, of course.
— Try to find a place free from vegetation, such as a ditch or depression on level ground.
— Lie face down and cover your body. “You want to protect your airway,” McLean said. “That is what the leading cause of death in a fire is — that you inhale those hot gases produced by a fire, and they compromise your airway.”