Wildfire Evacuation Preparation and Planning Strategies

May 15, 2023
Edmonton, Alberta

Safety Tip

In preparation for an evacuation, it is natural for homeowners and residents to feel uneasy about leaving their property and belongings behind. The Alberta RCMP understands that the protection of your property is second only to the protection of your loved ones. Until you can return to your community, your local RCMP and our law enforcement partners are committed to keeping evacuated communities safe and secure.

Help us to keep everyone safe by listening to the advice from your local authorities and staying away from evacuated areas until you can return.

Pre-Evacuation Steps for Property Safety

To assist law enforcement in safeguarding your property and belongings during an evacuation, you can take simple precautions:

Safe Proofing Your Property (look at it, lock it, log it)

LOOK at it

Make sure you walk around your property and there are no open gates, damaged fences, windows left open, doors left ajar or unlocked or things that may need repair that leave your property vulnerable.

Look at the lights around your property and make sure they are in working condition. Do you have enough lights to illuminate your property? Are they shining brightly enough to offer a large field of vision?

Make sure your security devices (cameras, alarm sensors) are in good working condition with fresh batteries in devices that need them.

If possible try to ensure you have clear and open sightlines from the road to your home and around your property. Do trees or other vegetation create opportunities for thieves to conceal themselves?


If something is valuable to you, ensure you secured it. Thieves look for opportunities, don't give them any.

Secure all vehicles, doors and windows on your property. Ensure you have proper and working locks on all doors and windows around your property. Replace any rusted or damaged locks. Secure outdoor structures: If you have sheds, garages, or other outdoor structures, ensure they are securely locked. Store valuable tools, equipment, or vehicles inside, if possible. Reinforce doors and windows of these structures as well by using additional locks, deadbolts, or security bars to make them more resistant to forced entry.

LOG it

Take photos of each room of your home and any belongings of value that you may have stored within the house. Keeping a visual record of your items will help the police or your insurance company if anything is lost or damaged.

Take photos, or video or write down the serial numbers of expensive items you may have in your home or yard. This information can help officers locate your stolen items and return them to you. It is also helpful should you need to make an insurance claim.

Make copies of birth and marriage certificates, passports, licences, wills, land deeds and insurance. Take photos of family members in case you need to make a missing persons report.

Keep these items in a safe place, both inside and outside your home. You might want to put them in a fireproof safe, safety deposit box or give them to friends and family who live out of town.

Vehicle Safety

Make sure to put gas in your vehicle and try to keep a full tank. You should have enough fuel to get you to a safe location in case of an immediate evacuation.

Never leave your car or truck running unoccupied with the keys in the ignition.

Most vehicle theft can be prevented, by simply making sure your vehicles are locked when not in use. Do not leave keys in your vehicle and always make sure your doors are locked, even when stored outside your home or inside your garage.

Do not leave anything of value in plain sight. If stopping for the night, remove all valuables from your vehicle and store them in a safe location. If possible do not leave personal items unattended overnight.

Use an anti-theft device or alarm on your vehicle – for example, a steering wheel locking device.

Try to park in busy, well-lit areas.

When your vehicle is unoccupied remove items that have personal information like registration papers.

Do not leave an extra or spare set of keys inside your vehicle.

Report auto theft immediately and provide police with make, model, and licence plate number – having this information logged somewhere will make it easier to report.

Natural Disaster Frauds to Watch Out For

Be cautious of unsolicited calls where you are asked for personal information.

If you didn't initiate the call and you don't know who you're talking to- Do not give out any personal information.

If a caller claiming to be from a government agency or business is seeking your personal information, get their information, hang up and call the agency or business back to confirm the request.

Never give account numbers, passwords or other personal information to unsolicited callers.

Be careful if you are being pressured to provide information immediately.

If a caller tells you that you need to pay an upfront fee to receive a gift, charitable donation, or prize – do not pay the fee. If you won it- it's free. In Canada, there are no prize fees or taxes.

If something sounds too good to be true, it often is. Do your homework and check to make sure what you are being offered is not a scam. To report a scam or find out if you're being scammed, you can reach out to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre or the local police.

By taking these precautionary measures, we can contribute to a safer evacuation process for ourselves, our families, and our communities.

How to Secure Your Home Before and Evacuation

Take a USB or external hard drive, and back up any important files or documents you may have on your home computer.

Make sure all your personal devices are fully charged. This includes laptops, cell phones and tablets.

Your family may not be together when an evacuation occurs. Plan how to meet or how to contact one another, and discuss what you would do in different situations. Arrange for each family member to call, e-mail or text the same out-of-town contact person in case of an emergency.

Choose an out-of-town contact who lives far enough away that he or she is unlikely to be affected by the same event. If you are new to Canada or have recently moved to a new area, make arrangements through friends, cultural associations or community organizations.

Assign Responsibilities- Identify who is responsible for what. The first consideration, of course, is saving human life and getting everyone out safely. Discuss who will be responsible for assisting very young or elderly family members during the evacuation.

Have a "go" bag ready in case of an evacuation and have it near the front door so you are able to leave and not waste time searching for things in an emergency scenario. If you have things of sentimental value, that can not be replaced, have those ready to go as well and in an easy to transport container.

Evacuation orders

Authorities will not ask you to leave your home unless they have reason to believe that you may be in danger. If you are ordered to evacuate, take your emergency kit, your wallet, personal identification for each family member and copies of essential family documents with you. Bring a cellular phone and spare battery or charger with you, if you have one. Use travel routes specified by local authorities.

If you have time, call or e-mail your out-of-town contact. Tell them where you are going and when you expect to arrive. Once you are safe, let them know. Tell them if any family members have become separated.

Take pets with you. Lock your home. Follow instructions from authorities.

Do not return home until authorities advise that it is safe to do so.

Evacuation "Go" Bag Kit Basics

In an emergency, you will need some basic supplies. You may need to get by without power or tap water. Be prepared to be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours. Alberta Emergency Preparedness has great tips and advice.

You may have some of the items already, such as food, water and a battery-operated or crank flashlight. The key is to make sure they are organized and easy to find. Would you be able to find your flashlight in the dark?

Make sure your kit is easy to carry and everyone in the household knows where it is. Keep it in a backpack, duffle bag or suitcase with wheels, in an easy-to-reach, accessible place, such as your front hall closet.

Here are a few basics to include in your bag:

  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight
  • Chargers for phones and other electronic devices
  • Battery powered radio with batteries, or emergency crank radio
  • Pet food, pet supplies and water for any of your furry friends
  • Birth certificates, passports, marriage certificates- any paper-based documents that you need and are important to you.
  • Sanitation supplies (personal hygiene products)
  • An extra set of car keys
  • Eye glasses or contact lenses
  • Medications
  • If you do not have a list of contacts in your phone and instead store those numbers in an address book, make sure to bring that so you can let people know you are okay
  • Change of clothing (three day minimum)
  • Face masks or coverings to avoid breathing in smoke and other circulating debris.
  • Three-day supply of non-perishable food and three gallons of water per person
  • Main and alternate evacuation routes to get to your safe location

Pet and Livestock Safety

Always remember to bring enough food and water for your pets, and do not forget any medications they make require.

Commercial livestock producers and hobbyists are responsible to have plans for the evacuation of their livestock and be familiar with the information on farm preparedness which can be found on the Government of Alberta website.

Family pets may become stressed or anxious in emergency situations. To keep them safe and avoid them getting out while trying to evacuate, keep them leashed or secured in travel crates as you leave your home.


Contact information

Alberta RCMP Media Relations

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