Protection from Wildfires

Here in the Golden State, the hot, dry and windy conditions of late summer and fall are ideal for sudden wildfires that can be a threat to health and home. But a wildfire can start at any time of the year and without warning.

There are many resources offering useful information that can help you prepare so you’ll know what to do and how to stay safe in an emergency. Here we have listed some of those resources and answered some commonly asked questions about how to prepare and seek care during an emergency.

What can I do now to prepare for a possible emergency?

Having a plan for what to do in an emergency can help you stay calm, think clearly and do what’s needed to stay safe in a time of crisis. A detailed plan also prepares you for the unexpected events that may follow many natural disasters, such as power outages, transportation issues and problems with communication.

Of course, the best preparation for an emergency is to do what you can to prevent it. According to the American Red Cross, 85 percent of wildfires are caused by people burning debris, using equipment improperly, tossing away cigarettes carelessly, and leaving campfires unattended.

Learn what you can do to prevent a wildfire and how to prepare if there is one.

What if I have to evacuate--is it safe to go to a shelter?

Public health officials are taking measures to reduce the possible spread of COVID-19 among people who seek safety in a disaster shelter. Contact the local emergency management agency to find out the safety precautions being taken at any shelter you are considering. Visit the CDC website to find tips on what you can do to lower your risk of infection while staying safe in an emergency shelter.

To find the American Red Cross shelters that are open in your area, listen to your local media, check with your local American Red Cross chapter or visit their website at

What should I take with me if I need to leave my home?

In an emergency, every minute counts, so save valuable time by knowing ahead what you will take with you if you have to leave your home because of a wildfire or other emergency. Make of a list of what you will take with you and keep it where you can easily find it in at a moment’s notice. Don’t forget your SCAN ID card!

Click here for a detailed list of what to take and do if you need to leave your home.

What if I need care and I'm at a relative's house out of the area?

Many of your SCAN benefits are available when you’re out of the area, including urgent and emergency care.

If your care is being affected by a crisis, such as a wildfire, heatwave or COVID-19, check our “State of Emergency” page here.

I have a scheduled appointment but my doctor's office is closed due to a wildfire. What do I do?

If you had a routine appointment scheduled or are due for preventive care or a follow-up visit, definitely call your doctor. Many doctors are doing these types of visits “virtually,” using a smartphone, tablet or computer, or even by telephone.

If it’s not routine, still call ahead. Some medical groups offer 24-hour nurse advice lines for after-hours calls. And many SCAN members have a $0 telehealth benefit. This “doctor appointment by phone” is a good alternative to an urgent care center.

If you are having trouble getting needed care from your regular doctor, please see these guidelines that apply during a State of Emergency.

I live on my own but have trouble walking. What can I do to make sure I could get to safety in an emergency?

As part of your emergency preparedness plan, share your concerns with family and/or friends and arrange to have someone who will be responsible for checking on you in an emergency. Also, contact the local emergency management agency for programs and services available in your area, such as emergency alerts and emergency response teams.

For details and up-to-date information on wildfires and emergency preparedness, please refer to these organizations:

American Red Cross – Wildfire Safety website

The Department of Forestry and Fire Protection website

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Natural Disasters website

You own county’s department of Public Health: find it here

SCAN also provides guidance that is updated regularly to help you stay healthy and get care during current states of emergency, wildfires, heatwaves and other community safety concerns. YOUR CARE DURING A STATE OF EMERGENCY >>