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Ask Brian: How Do I Prepare for a Wildfire?

Ask Brian is a weekly column by Real Estate Expert Brian Kline. If you have questions on real estate investing, DIY, home buying/selling, or other housing inquiries please email your questions to

Question from Lorrie in ID: Hi Brian. My family and I recently made a big lifestyle change. After several visits, we moved from an east coast metro area to what I consider a wilderness area in North Idaho. Over the past six weeks, I’ve learned that we are in an area considered susceptible to wildfires. What I’m told is that drought conditions coupled with historic high temperatures have raised the fire danger rating to very high and extreme across northern Idaho. They actually have a “wildfire season” here that typically lasts from summer through the first significant rain or snow during the fall. I’m sure you will tell me that we should have done more research before making such a dramatic change. But what I really want to know are some practical steps that we can take to protect ourselves and our home before a fire gets started.

Answer: Hello Lorrie. There are three important steps that you want to take to prepare for the possibility of a wildfire. The first is taking action to make your home reasonably fire-resistant. Second is having a plan and supplies in place before a wildfire becomes a threat. Third is evacuating when you’re told that a fire might be endangering you and your home.

Lorrie, since you’re in the middle of the fire season, you should prioritize having a plan and supplies ready before spending time making your home fire-resistant. One of the first things to do is find several ways to leave your area. Drive the evacuation routes and find shelter locations. Prepare an emergency kit (including one that you can hand carry). Assume that you will not have time to search for the supplies you need or shop for them.

Here is a basic list that you may want to customize based on your family’s needs.

Items to take if time and space allow:

FEMA provides an app for real-time alerts from the National Weather Service. You also want to have contact information for local authorities.

Here are the common steps you want to take in advance to protect your home against wildfire.

When a wildfire is reported in your area, you may or may not have time to prepare to evacuate. If you see a wildfire and haven’t received evacuation orders, call 9-1-1. Don’t assume that someone else has already called. Often there is more than one level of evacuation order. If there is time, you will be told to prepare to evacuate with the most urgent order being to GO NOW!

When any level of order is given, you should wear protective clothing when outside — sturdy shoes, cotton or woolen clothes, long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, gloves, and a covering to protect your face. There is a good possibility you will need a respirator that filters out smoke or ash before you breathe it in.

If you have time:

Lorrie, you can never be too prepared for an emergency as severe as a wildfire. I hope these general guidelines help but you should always consider your personal circumstances and make appropriate plans.

Please add your comments.

Our weekly Ask Brian column welcomes questions from readers of all experience levels with residential real estate. Please email your questions or inquiries to

Photo by Nikolay Maslov on Unsplash

Author bio: Brian Kline has been investing in real estate for more than 35 years and writing about real estate investing for 12 years. He also draws upon 30 plus years of business experience including 12 years as a manager at Boeing Aircraft Company. Brian currently lives at Lake Cushman, Washington. A vacation destination, near a national and the Pacific Ocean.

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