Prepare for Fire / Wildfire


In just two minutes, a fire in your home can become life-threatening. In five minutes, a residence can be engulfed in flames. Make your home fire-safe, and make sure you and your family are prepared for fire.


  • Install the right number of smoke/carbon monoxide alarms. Test them once a month and replace the batteries at least once a year.
  • Teach children what smoke alarms sound like and what to do when they hear one.
  • Ensure that all household members know two ways to escape from every room of your home and know the family meeting spot outside of your home.
  • Establish a family emergency communications plan and ensure that all household members know who to contact if they cannot find one another.
  • Practice escaping from your home at least twice a year. Press the smoke alarm test button or yell “Fire“ to alert everyone that they must get out.
  • Make sure everyone knows how to call 9-1-1.
  • Teach household members to STOP, DROP and ROLL if their clothes should catch on fire.


  • Keep items that can catch on fire at least three feet away from anything that gets hot, such as space heaters
  • Smoking materials are the leading cause of residential fire deaths in the US - if you smoke, take precautions: smoke outside; choose fire-safe cigarettes; never smoke in bed, when drowsy or medicated, or if anyone in the home is using oxygen
  • Use deep, sturdy ashtrays and douse cigarette and cigar butts with water before disposal
  • Talk to children regularly about the dangers of fire, matches and lighters and keep them out of reach
  • Turn portable heaters off when you leave the room or go to sleep
  • Never leave a burning candle unattended, even for a minute
  • Visit the Red Cross or home fire pages for many more tips about preventing fire in your home

(home fire information sources include: and Red Cross)


A wildfire is an unplanned fire that burns in a natural area such as a forest, grassland, prairie, or open space area - in some locales, like Half Moon Bay, wildfires can happen very near to developed areas, and can ruin homes, cause injuries or death, and destroy the forest or open space environment. The 2017 fires in California's wine country are an example of the devastation that wildfires can cause.

Wildfires can:

  • Often be caused by humans or lightning, or propagated by high winds and their impact on electrical wires
  • Result in flooding, and disrupt transportation, gas, power, and communications
  • Happen anywhere, anytime. Risk increases in periods of little rain and high winds
  • Cost local, state, and Federal government billions of dollars each year

PG&E has noted that for public safety, they may turn off electricity in high fire-threat areas when extreme fire danger conditions occur. They will attempt to contact customers in advance, when and where possible, to allow enough time to prepare. 


  • Sign up for SMCAlert, San Mateo County's community warning system. 
  • Know several ways to leave the area, drive your evacuation route and locate shelter locations, and have a plan for your pets and livestock
  • Gather emergency supplies, including N95 respirator masks that filter out particles in the air you breathe
  • Designate a room that can be closed off from outside air. Close all doors and windows. Set up a portable air cleaner to keep indoor pollution levels low when smoky conditions exist
  • Keep important documents in a fireproof, safe place, and create password-protected digital copies
  • Use fire-resistant materials when you build, renovate, or make repairs
  • Find an outdoor water source with a hose that can reach any area of your property
  • If near open space, forest, or grassland, create and maintain a fire-resistant defensible space for at least 30 feet around your home, making sure it is free of leaves, debris, or flammable materials
  • Review insurance coverage to make sure it is enough to replace your property
  • Pay attention to air quality alerts
  • See Half Moon Bay's "What you can do to prepare for disaster" web page
  • Visit the wildfire page for more information


  • Evacuate immediately if authorities tell you to do so.
  • If trapped, then call 911 and give your location (be aware that emergency response could be delayed or impossible); turn on lights to help rescuers find you
  • Listen to news radio, and check SMCAlert for current emergency information and instructions
  • Use an N95 masks to keep harmful particles out of the air you breathe
  • If you are not ordered to evacuate but smoky conditions exist, stay inside in a safe location or go to another location where smoke levels are lower

(wildfire information source: