How to Prepare for California’s Wildfire Season

A temperature map for this summer. Credit…NOAA

By many accounts, this year’s fire season will be brutal.

California is in the midst of a severe drought, and we’re anticipating another hot summer. Those very same conditions made the last two fire seasons particularly destructive, together killing a total of 36 people and destroying more than 14,700 buildings in the state.

Already, there have been more than 3,000 fires in 2022. On Monday, a blaze erupted in Sierra Nevada Gold Country and exploded to more than 3,500 acres. The fire, which was 5 percent contained as of Tuesday evening, has forced hundreds to evacuate their homes.

While we can’t entirely prevent fires, we can take steps to minimize their damage. Today I’m providing some tips for how to best prepare for wildfire season in California:

Ready your home

There are several measures you can take to help protect your property from wildfires, including clearing gutters, trimming brush and adding fire-resistant plants to your garden.

One of the more effective measures is creating a defensible space, a buffer of at least 100 feet (preferably more) between your home and flammable vegetation. The space helps prevent your home from catching fire — either from embers or flames — and provides firefighters a safe area to work in so they can defend your property. Read more from CalFire about how to build defensible space.

Another important safety precaution is limiting where embers can enter your home. Flying embers from a wildfire can destroy houses up to a mile away and are responsible for most property destruction during a wildfire, according to CalFire. Ways to keep your home safe from embers include installing metallic mesh on your vents and removing plant debris from your roof and rain gutters.

Learn more about how to prepare your home for wildfires in this article by my colleagues Marie Tae McDermott and Giulia Heyward.

Make a plan

Before a fire or other disaster, make a plan for what you and your household will do in case of an emergency evacuation.

Familiarize yourself with escape routes from your community, and decide where you’ll go if you must quickly leave your home. And make a list of which belongings you want to take with you.

See what else to consider in your wildfire plan.

Create a ‘go bag’

When a fast-moving fire is approaching, there usually isn’t time to assemble a bag with everything you might need to be away from home for a few nights. That’s why you should pack in advance.

In a backpack or other easy-to-grab kit, you’ll want to include a change of clothes, a first aid kit, a flashlight and an extra set of car keys. It’s also recommended that you keep handy a three-day supply of food and water for you and your pets.

CalFire has a checklist you can follow, and The New York Times has additional guidance on what to put in your emergency bag to be ready for any kind of disaster.

The Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in Avila Beach supplies almost 10 percent of the state’s electricity.Credit…Michael Mariant/Associated Press

The rest of the news

  • Nuclear energy gets new push: With challenges in meeting clean energy goals and new electricity demands, politicians in both parties seek to prolong and even expand reactor use — including at the Diablo Canyon plant in Avila Beach.

  • Gun owner info: Cybersecurity experts say the California Department of Justice apparently failed to follow basic security procedures on its website, potentially exposing the personal information of gun owners, The Associated Press reports.

  • Upcoming ballot measures: California voters will weigh in on seven ballot measures this fall, The Associated Press reports.

  • Cannabis taxes: California is significantly overhauling its cannabis tax structure, including entirely eliminating a tax on growers, CalMatters reports.

  • Abortion wars: Court challenges to sweeping rollbacks of abortion rights must go through state supreme courts, many of which have been shaped by years of conservative activism.


  • Fireworks explosion: A 42-year-old man was killed when a powerful firework exploded in his hand during a Fourth of July celebration in a Southern California neighborhood, The Associated Press reports.


  • Algae warning: State authorities issued a danger advisory for San Luis Reservoir in Merced County because of the toxin levels of blue-green algae in the water, The Associated Press reports.


  • Amtrak collision: A 9-year-old boy has become the fourth person to die from a fatal Amtrak collision in Brentwood, SFist reports.

Credit…Tailor & Reach

What you get

What $2.2 million can buy in California.

Credit…David Malosh for The New York Times

What we’re eating

If Cheddar on a slice of apple pie sounds good to you, you’ll love this twist on a grilled cheese sandwich.

Credit…Jane Tyska/Digital First Media/East Bay Times via Getty Images

Where we’re traveling

Today’s tip comes from Charlotte Drury, who recommends the California coast along Humboldt and Mendocino Counties:

Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to [email protected]. We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.

Dean Hansell, left, and Eric Kugler were married March 26.Credit…Jennelle Fong for The New York Times

And before you go, some good news

Eric Kugler likes to say he met Dean Hansell through Ed Sullivan and Ingrid Bergman.

What actually brought them together in February 2011, though, was GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

Read their full love story in The Times.

Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow. — Soumya

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Cylinder-shaped pasta (5 letters).

Isabella Grullón Paz and Briana Scalia contributed to California Today. You can reach the team at [email protected].


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