Our 3-Step Escape Plan

  • First Escape Route
  • Second Escape Route
  • Meeting Place

Use this space to note any additional information about your escape plan, i.e. who will assist

Your checklist
  • Get low

    Smoke is poisonous and more deadly than flames.

    If you breathe smoke for more than a few breaths it can kill you.

  • Be fast

    A house fire can kill you in less than three minutes.

    Don't spend time trying to save possessions.

  • Close doors

    A closed door buys you time.

    It slows down the spread of fire, giving you more time to get to safety.

  • Get out - stay out!

    People have died by going back into a fire.

    Don't leave the meeting place to go back inside for any reason.

When Wildfire Threatens

In a wildfire emergency, you may suddenly have to leave home for an extended period with little warning. The best thing you can do is prepare well and have your evacuation plan ready.

On this page

Talk about the impacts

Understanding the impacts of a wildfire can help keep you and your whānau safe. Have a chat with the people in your household and work out what you’ll do in this situation. We also encourage everyone to think about getting their workplace ready for a wildfire emergency.

For more information, go to:

Talk about the impacts — Get Ready — Emergency preparedness in New Zealand(external link)

Work out what you need

You may have to evacuate your home or workplace because of a wildfire. Figure out what you and your family need if you have to stay away from home, and plan for what you require to get you through during this time. Consider things you need every day and what you would do if you didn’t have them?

Grab bag

Have a grab bag for everyone in your family. A grab bag is a small bag with essential supplies. See link below for suggestions on what to take, that you can tailor to your own circumstances.

In your car

Plan ahead for what you will do if you can’t get home because of a wildfire. Roads could be closed, or traffic could build up; you may be stranded in your car for some time.

Also consider how much fuel is in your car during the summer or periods of increased wildfire risk. You may have to leave in a hurry and may not be able to fill up as conveniently as usual.

For more information on what supplies you need, go to:

Work out what supplies you need — Get Ready — Emergency preparedness in New Zealand(external link)

Make a household emergency plan

A household emergency plan lets everyone in your household know what to do in a wildfire and how to get ready.

Having a plan helps make actual emergency situations less stressful. Knowing your escape routes and a safe zone where you’ll meet up with your household is important. Ensure you also consider pets and livestock, including what would happen in the event that you are not at home.

Keep a map of your evacuation routes with your plan.

In a wildfire, a safe zone refers to places that are clear of vegetation and can provide adequate refuge from an approaching fire. They may have large areas of concrete or well-maintained short grass like on school grounds and sports fields, or large volumes of water, like a lake.

When planning your escape route, you won’t always know what direction the fire is coming from so it’s important to have more than one way out. Identify a safe zone that is clear of vegetation in case you can’t evacuate and you have to shelter in place (either on your property or within your community).

For more information, go to:

Make a plan — Get Ready — Emergency preparedness in New Zealand (external link)

Tailor your plan

Every household’s plan will be different because of where we live, who lives with us and who might need our help.

When making your household plan, remember to include everyone.

Think about the requirements of disabled people, older people, babies, young children, pets, and other animals.

Develop your plan including your livestock and pets so it’s matches your situation.

For more information, go to:

Tailor your plan — Get Ready — Emergency preparedness in New Zealand (external link)

For more information on animal welfare during a wildfire, go to:

Animals affected by fire - advice for livestock, lifestyle block, horse and pet owners (mpi.govt.nz) (external link)

Stay informed

It’s important to know the different ways you can stay informed during a wildfire. Emergency services will always aim to alert communities to an approaching fire, but there may not always be time to issue an official warning. Be aware of what is happening in your area – particularly if you see or smell smoke on a hot or windy day, because fire can move very quickly.

If in doubt, get out!

Wildfires move quickly. If you can see the smoke or flames from a wildfire and you feel unsafe, don’t wait for an official warning to leave. Call 111 if your life or property is threatened, or you can’t evacuate on your own.

Once you have evacuated, let family or friends know where you are. If a welfare centre/civil defence centre has been set up for evacuees, you can register with them so you receive updates even if you don’t need help.

Know your neighbours

Get involved in your community and get to know your neighbours. Then when a wildfire happens, you will be able to help each other while Emergency Services and Civil Defence are busy helping people who need them the most. Contact your local support groups like www.neighbourhoodsupport.co.nz (external link)

Help your friends, whānau and community get prepared for a wildfire.

Make a community emergency plan so your community can help each other in an emergency.

Talking with other people in your community is one of the best ways to prepare.

For more information, go to:

Make a plan — Get Ready — Emergency preparedness in New Zealand (external link)

Make your home safer

If you live in a rural area or on the outskirts of town, you are likely to be at higher risk of a wildfire than someone living in a built-up area. We can’t predict when or where a wildfire will occur, but we can prepare for them. One of the best places to start is with your home. Learn more on how to prepare for and protect your property from wildfire.

If you have time before your evacuation, turn on sprinklers, fill the gutters with water, and wet down materials like firewood that may fuel the fire. Some other considerations if time permits are:

  • Move vehicles to a safe location.
  • Relocate lightweight garden furniture, door mats and other outdoor items indoors.
  • Wet down the sides of buildings, decks and plants close to your home in the likely path of the wildfire.
  • Move animals and livestock to a well-grazed or ploughed area.
  • Close windows, doors, and vents. Shut blinds. Seal gaps under doors and windows with wet towels.