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When a wildfire threatens your community, emergency managers will determine areas to be evacuated, and routes to use, depending upon the fire’s current and predicted location. Law enforcement officers are responsible for enforcing an evacuation order. Follow their directions promptly.
If time allows, officials will attempt to advise you of the safest evacuation routes. You must take the initiative to keep informed and alert. Listen to your radio for updates on changing conditions. Monitor Alert Marin and Nixle for notifications and updates You may be directed to temporary assembly or refuge areas to await transfer to a safe location.
Public and private schools will attempt to notify parents, and evacuate children only if time allows. Schools may need to “shelter in place” and will protect children in safe places on campus if a wildfire strikes without time to evacuate. Many Marin schools have taken steps to protect campuses with additonal defensible space and other wildfire hardening measures.
When an evacuation is ordered, parents may not be allowed in to the evacuated area to pick up students! Communicate this with your children in advance, and send them to school prepared with the tools they need to communicate and protect themselves, such as extra food, long cotton clothing, and a list of primary and alternate emergency contacts and numbers.
Fire roads are for firefighter use only, and are not a safe option for evacuation. Stay on pavement, in your vehicle if possible. The unmaintained vegetation on fire roads, the fact that most lead uphill, and the requirement for high-clearance, 4-wheel drive vehicles makes them unsafe and unsuitable for evacuation.
Firefighters don't evacuate uphill, don't evacuate towards "unburned" vegetation, and don't attempt to outrun a fire uphill. You shouldn't either.
Take the fastest route towards the open areas and wide roads of a valley floor - the route you normally take to the grocery store is usually the best route to evacuate by. If available, law enforcement officers will direct traffic and wave vehicles through intersections. Even during an extreme wildfire, when there may be fire on both sides of the road, you will be safer inside your vehicle than out. Keep the windows rolled up, outside vents closed, turn your lights on, and drive slowly and carefully. Don’t panic if caught in traffic. You are safer in your car than outside! Do not stop to ask law enforcement officers or firefighters for fire information.
Open locations free of unburned vegetation may be safe places to wait while a fire passes. If your evacuation route is blocked or impassable, a wide parking lot, ball field, or even a house or commercial building may provide temporary shelter. Parking your car, with windows up, in a location far from vegetation or structures and waiting for the fire to pass, is often a safe option for sheltering in place. Authorities may choose to evacuate the temporary refuge areas en-masse when it’s safe to do so.
Emergency managers will attempt to provide information on safe evacuation centers if time allows. Plan to drive towards the highway 101 corridor. The Marin Civic Center Fairgrounds are a pre-designated evacuation facility and a safe location for evacuees. For small-scale local evacuations or disaster recovery and sheltering, local schools, community centers, or large parking lots may be used.
Don't panic! Law enforcement can move a large number of vehicles through intersections. Remember that your car provides a tremendous amount of protection from heat, smoke, and embers.
If you live in a "one way in, one way out" neighborhood, as is common in Marin, your escape route is predetermined.
Learn more at www.firesafemarin.org/evacuation