Marin Fire Safety and Preparation

The risk of wildfire in Marin County is a very real concern that we all have a responsibility to be prepared for to the best of our ability. It is essential that we are all prepared as best we can be. The reality is that if we have to evacuate we will be given just a few minutes to grab and go. There will be no time to think.
Please review the information below and prepare your family as best you can.
  • Sign up for warning and alert systems here; Learn at least two different ways to exit town from your home via roadways. Remember, you may be exiting UP and over, not just down and out.
    Also learn as many Step, Lanes and Paths that you could take on foot if needed. Remember, you may be exiting UP and over, not just down and out.
  • The following form (from the City of MV website) can be used to request our battalion Chief Scott Barnes to evaluate your property for fire prone plants/defensible space: See form here. We need to make our properties safer.
  • Sign up for Cert training here.
  • Sign up to attend Get Ready Marin program here.
  • Subscribe to FireSafeMarin newsletter here.
  • Attend a public meeting in your city. They are held monthly in the City of Mill Valley. The Emergency Preparedness Commission meets at Mill Valley City Hall, 26 Corte Madera Avenue on the second Thursday of each month at 7:00 p.m. You can express your thoughts in person during “public open time” at the beginning of the meeting
  • Review this video of the Mill Valley Council meeting where the Fire Chief gives a thorough preparation on preparing homes for fires. It starts at 26 minutes.
  • Review this Ted Talk on why wildfires are worse and what we can do here.
PREPARE your Emergency and Evacuation Supplies
If we get a fire in Mill Valley on a Red Flag day it will all happen way too fast. Our town consists of 3 canyons (4 including Homestead) with roads converging onto 2 main streets out. We can and should expect gridlock, not due to the one lane section on Miller, but due to congestion in the “normal” places - Tam Junction and East Blithedale at 101. But that makes one HUGE assumption. Will our residents even be able to get to E. Blithedale or Miller or will we be jammed behind cars on our narrow streets, some going up, others down, others abandoned?
PLEASE START LEARNING ABOUT EVACUATION PLANNING. There are many source of information, including the City’s website, so be responsible and get to it.

EVACUATION SUPPLIES - Pre-Packed Go-Bag for Evacuation Order
  • Put together your emergency supply kit long before a wildfire or other disaster occurs and keep it easily accessible so you can grab it if you have to evacuate immediately.
  • Each person in your family should have a readily accessible emergency supply kit. Backpacks work great for storing and are quick to grab. Use a duffle for family items. Remember: Keep it light enough to be able to lift your things in your car.
  • Original and important documents, such as birth, marriage and death records should be kept in a safe deposit box away from your house as well as storing it in cloud (soft copy of your documents).
Individual Back Pack Checklist:
  • Face Mask for Smoke (N95 or N100). Get it at the hardware store. Read the directions!
  • Sturdy shoes or preferably boots. Keep them near your bed and handy in case of emergency evacuation.
  • Cotton or wool long sleeve and pants with bright color.
  • Flashlight and battery, hand powered radio and extra batteries. Keep them near your bed and handy.
  • Fanny pack with water, extra car keys, charge card, small and large denomination cash and coins.
  • Safety goggles, leather gloves, headlamp and a kerchief for each family member to protect against smoke and heat in case of evacuating during a large fire.
  • Extra cell-phone charge and or batteries. Emergency contact list.
Family Duffle Checklist
  • A copy of your written, prioritized, “Grab and Go List” of irreplaceable possessions that you will take if you have time to evacuate via a vehicle (note the item and where it is located in your house to save time)
  • A copy of the Evacuation Action Checklist and your written Family Emergency Plan to guide you during and after evacuation.
  • Copies of medical insurance cards, financial records and key documents including investment and bank account info and property insurance policies and contact info. Or scan these items and store on USB or on Cloud.
  • Make sure everyone knows how to shut off electric and water.
  • Make sure your children’s school emergency plans and hold/release policies have been reviewed. Confirm that list of authorized pick-up people is current.
  • Make sure children – if instructed to do so by their school – have comfort kits in the school’s emergency supply storage.
  • Make sure personal belongings and home furnishings have been inventoried or photographed and inventory list or CD of photographs is stored outside of your home (for recovery insurance)
  • Family’s vital documents are copied and stored outside of your home, preferably online.
Grab and Go List For Evacuation Warning:
Things you need to grab at the last minute.
Your “Grab and Go” list is a prioritized list of irreplaceable possessions that you will take if you have time to evacuate via a vehicle. Note the item and where it is located in your house to save time. You ay want to create a separate list for each family member. Keep a copy of all lists in your Pre-packed evacuation kit so you can easily locate them during an evacuation.
Add to the list as you see fit:Add to the list as you see fit:
  • Wallet with Driver’s license, checkbook, credit/ATM cards
  • Prescription medicines, eyeglasses and other medical aids
  • Cellphone and charger
  • Computer or portable backup drives or USB drive or have regular cloud backup
  • Personal phone and password list
  • Current financial and insurance records, if not sorted off site in cloud.
  • Safe deposit keys
  • Passport
  • Family photos/photos stored on flash drive
  • Family heirlooms, jewelry etc
  • Emergency water – 1 gallon per person
Plan for BEFORE the Emergency
  • Designate an out-of-area contact to act as a single source of communication among family members in case of separation.
  • Assemble an Emergency Supply Kit for each person
  • Keep an extra Emergency Supply Kit in your car or at work, in case you cannot get to your home because of fire or other emergency.
  • Maintain a list of emergency contact numbers and keep it posted near your phone and in your emergency supply kits.
  • Sign up all phones for Alert Marin (Alertmarin) and Nixle – text zip code to 888777
  • Maintain a landline in case digital systems are down.
  • On your cell phone under ICE store your emergency contact person.
  • Keep your phone next to your bed at night.
  • Keep sturdy boots or shoes next to your bed.
  • Make sure you know how to take the garage door off the track by pulling the red handle or get a battery back up so you can operate in the case of an emergency.
  • Have a portable AM/FM radio scanner so you can stay updated on the fire.
  • Make sure emergency radio stations are posted on or newar radios in home: 74AM KCBS, 801AM KGO, 88.5F KQED
  • Make sure everyone knows where the fire extinguishers are and how to operate them.
Plan for During the Emergency

  • List the location of your Pre-packed Evacuation kit, your Grab and Go List, and your Evacuation Action Checklist.
  • List the location of your Shelter at Home Supplies.
  • List ways to evacuate your neighborhood: Two by car, two on foot. Don’t forget to consider going through neighbors’ yards and on lanes and paths. Do not use fire trails.
  • List how to escape from each room in your house.
  • Create and evacuation plan for pets and large animals such as horses and other livestock. See the Marin Humane Society Website.

  • What to do if a fire starts.
  • How to call 911.
  • How will you evacuate from each room in your home?
  • How will you evacuate from your home?
  • What to do if overtaken by fire: At home – what rooms are safest? In your car? On foot?
Create a written Family Evacuation Plan.
Practice your plan with your entire family at least twice each year, such as the beginning of the summer and the beginning of the school year.
 Post this plan in a prominent place in your home and include a copy in your Pre-Packed Emergency Kit.

Leave Early

Any delay could risk your life.

  • Monitor local news and radio station for fire information. In Marin, AM740, 810 and FM 88.5 are good options
  • Alert your neighbors, especially if they have children or are elderly or disabled
  • Locate your pets and place them in carriers IMMEDIATELY. You will not be able to catch them later.
  • Use your Grab and Go Checklist to assemble your irreplaceable possessions (photo albums, original art, computer records, insurance records etc. and load everything in the car)
  • Load your Pre-Packed evacuation Kit in your car.
  • Pack water, portable radio, flashlight.
  • Make sure your cell phone has the wireless emergency alerts turned on. Turn down cellphone brightness to conserve power. If you have call forwarding on your home phone, forward all calls to you cell.
  • Move your car off of the street so that you do not block emergency vehicles. Park your car in the driveway facing the street. Leave the keys in the ignition, roll up the windows and close the vent.
  • Leave your house and gates unlocked and lights on.

  • Move your car off of the street so that you do not block emergency vehicles. Park your car in the driveway facing the street. Leave the keys in the ignition, roll up the windows and close the vent.
  • Leave your house and gates unlocked and lights on.
  • Dress in long sleeves and long pants, heavy cotton or wool is preferable no matter how hot it is.
  • Wear leather gloves, head and eye protection – goggles are best
  • Cover your face with a dry bandana or cotton or wool cloth or scarf OVER an N95 respirator.
  • Carry your car keys and wallet 
  • Drink lots of water and stay hydrated 

  • Put a sign on your door/gate – Evacuated
  • Post a note on front door telling others when you left and where you are going
  • Check on neighbors and make sure they are preparing to leave
  • Only take one car when evacuating. Better yet, car pool.
  • If you are driving, visibility may be low. Turn your head lights on and DRIVE SLOWLY!
  • When confronted by approaching emergency vehicles, get off the road and out of the way.
  • You can safely drive when there is fire burning on the roadsides.
    If the roads out of your neighborhood become impassable due to abandoned vehicles or the approaching fire, park your car off the roadway and evacuate on foot as a last resort.
  • Do not leave your car when it will block the road or hinder firefighters.
  • Never use fire roads for evacuation. Evacuate towards major roads and away from fire.
  • Once safely away from the flames, head for the agreed upon meeting place or to the local shelter.
  • Once your family is gathered, evacuate to the nearest major community away from the fire.

  •  Shut all windows and doors and leave UNLOCKED.
  • Close dog doors, fireplace dampers and skylights.
  • Remove flammable window shades and lightweight curtains.
  • Close metal shutters and blinds.
  • Move flammable furniture to the center of the room, away from the windows and doors.
  • Turn off pilot lights
  • Leave all indoor and exterior lights on so firefighters can see your house under smoky conditions.
  • Shut off air conditioning and house fans.
  • Gather up combustible items from the exterior of the house. Bring them inside ormove them at least 30 feet from any structure or place them in your pool. This includes patio furniture, children’s toys, door mats, trash cans, etc.
  • Turn off propane tanks
  • Move propane BBQ appliances away from structures and close propane valves.
  • Connect garden hoses to outside water valves or spigots with grip nozzles.
  • Fill water buckets and place them around the house.
  • Make sure all hoses and irrigation systems are turned off.
  • DO NOT leave irrigation or sprinklers on or water running. They are ineffective and can reduce critical water pressure for the entire neighborhood.
  • Hosing your roof down is dangerous and ineffective
Stay Calm and don’t panic.

 If you get trapped at home:

  • Call 911.
  • Close all windows and doors, leaving them unlocked.
  • Keep all family members together.
  • Stay near entry door, away from the outside walls.
  • Once fire has passed by get out& move across the burned area to safety. 
 If you get trapped in your car: 

  • Call 911.
  • You are almost always better off taking shelter in a building or remaining in your car until the fire passes. If no building is available, park in an area clear of vegetation.
  • Pull to the side of the road. Close the windows and vents, turn on your headlights and emergency flasher, cover yourself and lie on the floor.
  • Do not leave the vehicle until the fire has passed by. 
If you get trapped on foot:

  • Call 911
  • Find an area clear of vegetation or lie in a ditch, breathe through a towel or cloth, and cover all areas of exposed skin.
  • Once the fire has passed by the house or the area you’re at, get out and move back across the burned area to safety. 
 If a Fire breaks out in your home:

  • Call 911
  • Test doors for heat using the back of your hand. If you feel any heat, don’t open the door. Use an alternate exit.
  • If the door is cool, open it carefully, check for smoke or flames. Crawl with your head 12-24 inches above the ground to stay under the smoke.
  • Once you are out of a burning building, do not go back inside for any reason.
 If Given an Evacuation Warning

  • Leave ladders out at corners of the house for firefighters to quickly access your roof.
  • Get the fire extinguishers out.
  • Clearly mark water sources such as a pool or pond.
  • Seal your attic and ground vents with pre-cut plywood or commercial seal.

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