The 405 fires.

Many Californians have imagined that they would die on the 405, and today, thanks to the surrounding fires and police orders to ground traffic, it’s a more distinct possibility.

If you are ever stuck in fire conditions here is a quick sheet on what you should do, since stop-drop-and-roll doesn’t really apply.


First, even if where you are is not in the direct path of the fire, smoke particles are still a problem. Nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter—basically everything that is getting sucked up into the fire is now in the air.

In the case that you are not in the fire’s path, sheltering in place is the best course of action. Keep all windows and doors sealed. Run your A/C and any air filter systems you might have.

Obviously, now is not the time to start your wood-burning stove to get the kettle on.

If you have to go outside, a basic surgical mask à la Beijing won’t do much of anything to prevent smoke inhalation. Get a N95 or P100 respirator mask.

You’re looking at spending around $20 per mask.

Provided you are stuck on the 405 or other highway, your car should not be used as your shelter, instead ideally you should use the car as a means of escape. Think of your car as an extremely temporary solution. Crank the A/C and circulate the air from the car, not from the outside.

Fire Prep:

Back to your home. To lower the risk of attracting the fire, keep your area clear.

Don’t hoard brush, and get rid of that pile of wood leftover from the birdhouse project you attempted 3 years ago.

Look around your area. Whatever strikes your eye as kindling, get rid of it.

Also, pull inside any patio furniture and ditch the propane tank. The common rule of thumb is to make sure there is nothing overtly flammable within 30 feet of your building’s foundation, and to keep the lowest branches of any trees in your area at least 6ft off the ground.

Especially if your patio furniture is made from palettes.

Have your garden hose hooked up (a help to firefighters) and fill any large containers (trashcans, kiddie pools, etc.) you have with water beforehand.

If the area you live in has a typical fire season, when it comes to embers, it’s also a good idea to make sure your roof is kept in good condition, and to cover exterior vents with no bigger than 1/8 inch wire mesh.

Having a go-pack or bug-out type bag with all of your important documents and pictures is also a good idea in the case you have to get the hell out of dodge at a moment’s notice.

If you have pets, train them to go into their carriers for quick removal.

If you are unable to take your pets when you leave, have a sticker placed on your windows/doors with the number of pets you have to inform firefighters.

In the Blaze:

If you are going out into a fire, denim is king. Jeans and a long sleeve cotton shirt and heavy-duty boots will help keep embers at bay.

You want your jeans to be loose enough to be able to remove them quickly if need be, but not so baggy they get caught on debris or slow you down.

Now if the blaze has you surrounded, submerge yourself in any body of water you can. A pond? A neighbor’s pool? Both are great.

Not lucky with water? Try to find a dip or hole in the ground, and lay face down in it. Cover yourself with dirt and breathe from the ground as much as possible. Like a tornado, in this scenario, you are hoping the fire will just pass over you.

Leave your own fire experiences and any tips we might have missed down below.