Fires

On this page you will find...

What to Do...

Just Before

Check smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors

Contact your healthcare provider If you are sick and need medical attention. Wait for further care instructions and shelter in place, if possible. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 9-1-1. 

Gas up your car and (if you have one) generator. Check for old, bad gas in the generator.

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To get a forecast from the National Weather Service (English only) in your exact location, go to the page for Austin/San Antonio, and scroll down to this section. Click your exact location on the map and see the detailed forecast change for your area.

Get supplies ready in case you need to stay home for many days without power. Get extra water, non-perishable food, pet food, and fast-burn logs for cooking outside. If you don’t have one, get an electric heater.

Have extra batteries for radios and flashlights. 

Think about each person’s special needs, like medicine. 

 

Don’t forget about your pets. Bring them inside and lock pet doors.

Cover pipes and drip faucets.

Decide on a room that can be kept free of smoke. Buy an portable air cleaner, or make a DIY air purifier.

In addition to buying bottled water, store extra water in bathtub, sink or containers.

Alert vulnerable neighbors and share warming supplies. Think about people who are unhoused, older adults, and people living alone or with physical disabilities.

You may have to evacuate quickly due to a wildfire. Learn your evacuation routes, practice with household, pets and identify where you will go.

If available, store an N95 mask to protect yourself from smoke inhalation.

During

Pay attention to emergency alerts and notifications for information and instructions.

Check with local authorities for the latest information about public shelters or check open locations on the FEMA app.

Choose a room to close off from outside air and set up a portable air cleaner or filter to keep the air in this room clean even when it’s smoky in the rest of the building and outdoors. If you don’t have an air purifier, make a DIY air purifier.

Limit phone use to conserve power or keep phones charged.

Put perishables outside to keep cold.

Run cord for electric heaters to generators placed outside only.

Use fireplaces safely. 

If your power is on, keep energy use low to preserve power.

Check on neighbors who don’t have power.

Children sometimes need to ask questions to feel safe, and will usually ask questions they are ready to hear the answer to. Follow their lead, answering the questions they ask.

Kids may want to help with light tasks.

Reading books and playing games can help kids feel more normal and less scared.

Check the city website if you need shelter. Information on warming centers and shelters can be found on HSEM’s Active Emergency Information Hub page and the city’s shelter page.

Shelter for people who are unhoused can be found on the city webpage for Homeless Resources.

Conserving energy is important, especially if evacuation is a possibility.

If trapped, call 9-1-1 and give your location, but be aware that emergency response could be delayed or impossible. Turn on lights to help rescuers find you.

If you are sick and need medical attention, contact your healthcare provider for further care instructions and shelter in place, if possible.

Be careful! Even if the roads look just wet, they might still be slippery. Every year, over 5,000 people die on the roads because of the weather.

Before you start driving, make sure your vehicle is totally free of ice and snow. Snow flying off cars can cause accidents.

Tell someone where you are going and which way you will take. If something happens, they will know where to look for you.

Don’t leave home without these things: a fully charged phone, a car charger, and an emergency kit in your car.

If you start to skid while driving, stay calm, slowly take your foot off the gas, and steer in the direction you want the front of the car to go. If your car has an anti-lock braking system (ABS), press the brake pedal down firmly. Do not pump the brakes if your car has ABS.

If it’s hard to see because of the weather, pull over and stop your car until you can see better. Turn off your lights and use your parking brake when stopped to prevent another car from following your lights and hitting you.

Stay in the vehicle!

If you leave your vehicle, you will become disoriented quickly in wind-driven snow and cold.

Run the motor about 10 minutes each hour for heat.

While running the motor, open the window a little for fresh air to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

Clear snow from the exhaust pipe to avoid gas poisoning.

Be visible to rescuers.

Turn on the dome light at night when running the engine.

Tie a bright colored cloth, preferably red, to your antenna or door.

After snow stops falling, raise the hood to indicate you need help

  • Find Shelter: Try to stay dry and cover all exposed body parts.
  • When There Is No Shelter Nearby: Build a lean-to, windbreak or snow cave for protection from the wind. Build a fire for heat and to attract attention. Place rocks around the fire to absorb and reflect heat.
  • Melt Snow for Drinking Water: Eating unmelted snow will lower your body temperature.
  • Exercise: From time to time, move arms, legs, fingers and toes vigorously to keep blood circulating and to keep warm. Don’t work too hard. It may cause a heart attack, sweating could lead to a chill and hypothermia.

After

If you have sought shelter, return home only when authorities say it is safe. Avoid driving except in emergencies.

Avoid hot ash, charred trees, smoldering debris and live embers. The ground may contain heat pockets that can burn you or spark another fire.

When cleaning, wear protective clothing – including a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, work gloves and sturdy thick-soled shoes – during clean-up efforts.

Document property damage with photographs. Conduct an inventory and contact your insurance company for assistance.

Get insurance estimates early. If you don’t have insurance, check the city website for repair programs.

Check the city website if you need shelter.

Apply online for FEMA as soon as possible. If you need assistance, look to see if a disaster recovery center is set up near you.

Check the city website if you need shelter.

Use a respirator to limit your exposure, and wet debris to minimize breathing dust particles. People with asthma, COPD and/or other lung conditions should take precautions in areas with poor air quality, as it can worsen symptoms.

Send text messages or use social media to reach out to family and friends. Phone systems are often busy following a disaster. Make calls only in emergencies.

Preparation

FEMA has a risk map that covers Wildfire risk by census tract. You can use the tool to look up your address.

FEMA has a risk map that covers Wildfire risk by census tract. You can use the tool to look up your address.

Make an emergency kit. (See the preparation page).

Install check smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors that have battery backups. 

Know where your nearest warming centers, shelters and resilience hubs are located.

Find an outdoor water source with a hose that can reach any area of your property.

Use fire-resistant materials to build, renovate or make repairs.

Create a fire-resistant zone that is free of leaves, debris or flammable materials for at least 30 feet from your home.

Decide on a room that can be kept free of smoke. Buy a portable air cleaner or make a DIY air purifier.

What if I?

Make sure you have a kit ready with things kids need like diapers, baby food, and toys. Talk to your kids about what to do in winter storm so they’re not scared. 

Sign up for local emergency help for older people. This help can include special support if you need to leave your home quickly. Keep your medicines and supplies where you can get them easily. Connect to a friend. Consider staying at someone else’s house.

Make sure your mobility tools are ready and working. Try to have someone you can call for help in an emergency. Consider staying with a friend.

Keep your pregnancy care items and medicines in your emergency kit.  Be sure to have extra clean water on hand. Stay near clean water and rest when you need to. Stay connected to a nearby friend and have a back-up plan.

Get a pet emergency kit with food, water, and medicine. Make sure your pets have tags with your contact information. Practice how you will leave with your pets. If you have to leave your pet behind…

Keep a list of your medicines and enough for at least a week. Have a cooler ready for medicines that need to be kept cold.

Sign up for emergency alerts that show messages on your phone or computer. Keep extra batteries for any devices you use. Let emergency workers know that you need visual alerts.

Have your cane or guide dog’s harness ready in case you need to leave quickly. Mark your supplies so you can tell what they are by touching or feeling them. Make sure you can get alerts through sound or vibration.

Learn about buses and trains you can use in an emergency. Find someone nearby who can give you a ride if you can’t use public transport.

Make an emergency kit for the person you take care of. Include their special foods and medical supplies. Plan what to do if you can’t get to them.

Find out which local services give information in your language. You can use translation apps on your phone that work even when you’re not online.

Keep all your health stuff like prescriptions and insurance information in one place. Have enough medicine and special food ready.

Know where shelters are and what you need to get in. Keep your important papers like ID in a waterproof bag. Keep a bag with food, water, and a first aid kit. Stay clean to avoid getting sick.Stay up to date on where to go when it floods.

Know how to get out of your building safely if there’s a flood. Keep an emergency kit and important papers safe from water. Check if your apartment’s insurance covers flood damage.

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Things to Know and Learn

Use this map from FEMA to assess your risk of wildfire or other hazards.

Be sure to select “Census Tract View” and use the button on the top left to select the type of hazard.

You can find the map at 

https://hazards.fema.gov/nri/map

Term

Meaning

Threat Level

Action

Warning

Weather hazard is likely, going to happen or happening.

Threatens life and/or property.

Get to Safety Now!

Watch

Risk or weather hazard in the near future.

Could threaten life or property.

Have a Plan to Get to Safety. Watch closely.

Advisory

Weather hazard is likely, going to happen or happening.

Could cause problems or get worse.

Use Caution. Check for Updates.

Outlook

Risk of weather hazard in next week.

Could threaten life or property or inconvenience.

Prepare Ahead. Check for Updates.

Useful Maps

Wildfire Map

Road Conditions

Austin Energy Outage Map

Austin Water Outage Map

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