DURING A WILDFIRE: This section of Lookout’s Wildfire Resource Center covers how to deal with wildfire when it happens. Topics include monitoring weather and air quality, ensuring you’re ready for an evacuation, and how you can volunteer or donate to those in need.
This is Part 3 of Lookout’s Wildfire Resource Center — a one-stop guide for everything you need to do to be prepared before, during and after a wildfire.
In this part, you will find resources on:
- Staying informed
- Communicating with neighbors
- Weather alerts
- Fire incident and air quality maps
- Power loss and evacuation
- Helping those in need
“Fire on the Mountain”
Wildfires are more of a “when” than “if” in California these days, so Lookout has assembled a list of resources in the event of a wildfire. Having a plan in place and knowing what resources are available to you are essential to safety during a wildfire.
This section focuses on what you might need to do in the event of a wildfire to protect your family, neighbors, home, lungs, and more. For more information on evacuation preparation checklists, see Part 2 in Lookout’s Wildfire Resource Center.
Getting up-to-date alerts could save your life. Be sure to sign up for text alerts, keep a list of phone numbers (in your phone and printed in your home and car) and follow Twitter pages to stay in the loop about evacuation orders and fire updates.
- Enroll your phone number in CodeRED, a regional reverse 911 notification system that alerts residents of evacuations, severe weather, missing persons alerts and emergency police activity.
- Check out Cal Fire’s web-based Ready for Wildfire app to sign up for their alerts, view current incidents and get help building a readiness plan.
- Sign up for Lookout’s free breaking news text alerts here.
- For more info on emergency contacts from the Fire Safe Council of Santa Cruz County, click here.
- For up-to-date traffic and road closure info, click here.
- To print Lookout’s list of emergency phone numbers, download the contact list below.
- If you see smoke, or any possible active fire, always call 911.
- To report theft, contact the Santa Cruz Police non-emergency dispatch line.
- To report a missing person, call 911 right away. There is no mandatory waiting period.
Communicating with neighbors
- Check on your neighbors — especially elderly neighbors who might need help to evacuate.
- Knock on doors.
- Get to know your neighbors.
- Save their phone numbers and make a plan to check in on each other when a wildfire threatens your community.
Weather can make wildfire conditions way worse, or in the case of the CZU Lightning Complex fire in 2020, it can also be the source of ignition. To keep an eye on the sky, sign up for weather alerts or check out these websites:
- National Weather Service forecast and weather alerts for Santa Cruz and the Santa Cruz Mountains region.
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather hazard map — refreshed every five minutes. On the left-hand menu, switch the “hazards” tab to “on.” Scroll to zoom in to the Central Coast, and click on a hazard area for details.
- Check out this realistic, animated satellite map of the West Coast from NOAA, which shows real-time movement of storms, cloud cover and wildfire smoke.
Fire incident and air quality maps
- For Cal Fire’s up-to-date incident map, click here, and for the National Wildfire Coordinating Group’s incident map, click here. These maps are regularly updated, but more complete information on fire advancement can be found on the CZU Twitter page. Santa Cruz County also has a webpage of interactive maps relating to wildfire, debris flows and fire district boundaries.
- To find out what the local air quality is like, check out these sites:
- For more information on what you should do when it’s smoky outside, check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines on protecting yourself from smoke, and this in-depth guide from UC Berkeley, which discusses what activities to avoid, how to breathe easier in your house and car and what kind of mask is most effective.
Dealing with power loss and evacuation
- Don’t get stuck in the dark — prepare for planned and unplanned power outages with these two guides from PG&E on emergency preparedness and preparing for a Public Safety Power Shutoff.
- Cal Fire has put together some last-minute pre-evacuation fireproofing tips to run through for both the inside and outside of your house, as well as some generalized action plan guidelines, such as setting up an emergency meeting spot, creating an evacuation kit and having a family communication plan.
- The Fire Safe Council of Santa Cruz County has an in-depth, printable evacuation checklist that also includes tips on what to do if you get trapped on foot, in your car or in your home.
- For more evacuation checklists, resources for getting pets and livestock out safely and prepping your home to help firefighters do their job, see Part 2 of Lookout’s Wildfire Resource Center.
Helping those in need
How to volunteer:
- Call or visit the Santa Cruz Volunteer Center website to see how you can help elderly people, animals, families or evacuees.
- If you’d like to become a volunteer firefighter, check out Part 2 of Lookout’s Wildfire Resource Center.
Places you can send donations:
- The Community Foundation of Santa Cruz Fire Response Fund
- Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks
- Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds
- Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter Foundation
- Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County
- Santa Cruz County Office of Response, Recovery & Resilience
- Cal Fire Benevolent Foundation
- The American Red Cross
If there’s anything you believe was left out of this Wildfire Resource Center, please email Lookout Santa Cruz at firstname.lastname@example.org with your suggestions.