Wildfire Preparation for Cars

Wildfire Preparation for Cars

Wildfire Preparation for Cars

Wildfires can be a serious threat to life and property. When they strike, the best course of action is often to evacuate. Here’s how to make sure your car is ready for a wildfire evacuation.

Keep Your Vehicle Well Maintained

General maintenance is essential for a reliable and safe vehicle. That’s most important when you need your vehicle for an evacuation, not to mention when it could have to navigate around obstacles in the road or even do some minor off-roading.

When a wildfire is threatening, it isn’t the time when you want to realize that the brakes need changing, the battery is dead, or you don't have windshield washer fluid. It’s most certainly not when you want bald tires spinning on a dirt patch.

Take care of these parts of your car regularly. It’s vitally important during an evacuation and will help your vehicle last longer.

Prepare an Emergency Bag for the Car

An emergency kit should be stored in the trunk or cargo area of your vehicle. For wildfires, this goes beyond the basic first aid kit (although it definitely includes that item). You should carry:

  • First Aid Kit: Make sure you have basic medical supplies to treat minor scrapes, bruises and burns that could be sustained when moving debris.
  • Fire Extenguisher: An extinguisher might temporarily put out flames that block your escape route. If you must drive through a small area of fire, even a couple minutes' reprieve could save your tires and keep the car from quickly overheating. A Class B or Class C fire extinguisher can be used in vehicles, and there are plenty of 5-B:C extinguishers available.
  • Maps: In an emergency, paper maps are sometimes preferable to digital navigation systems. Both in-car and phone-app navigation services can go down if a wildfire destroys essential infrastructure. You should also try to conserve your cellphone's battery power.
  • Protective Clothing: Long-sleeve clothing can help protect you from stray burning embers. Also, throw in a hair tie if anyone in the family has long hair.
  • Masks: Air quality plummets during a wildfire, even if it’s not actually near you. Have masks on hand for everyone who might be evacuating in your vehicle. An N95, KN95 or P100 mask should work well for this purpose.
  • Water: You can’t have too much water when escaping a wildfire by car. You’ll need everyone to stay hydrated.

Clean the Exterior of Your Car

Wipe or rinse off any debris that has collected on exterior surfaces. Dead leaves and twigs could make your vehicle more flammable while reducing visibility.

Insure Your Car Against Wildfire Damage

While protecting your car shouldn't be the first priority during a wildfire, you can make sure it's insured beforehand. Comprehensive coverage generally protects against falling trees and fire. It's also not a bad idea to make sure you know what to do if there's a claim, as you may not be able to get a police report during a mandatory or voluntary evacuation.

If you’re unsure whether you currently have comprehensive coverage (or other important policies), contact an insurance agent to review your auto insurance policy.