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

Reduce the risk of wildfire

Maintain your property

Help defend your home and property from wildfire with outdoor maintenance tips:

  • Keeping your grass short around your home and other buildings on your property.
  • Keeping gutters and areas around decks clear of dead leaves, debris and pine needles.
  • Removing highly flammable plants close to your home and other buildings on your property.
  • Making a plan to plant low flammability plants before next summer.

Learn the steps to protect your property - Checkitsalright.nz (external link)
List of low flammability plants - Checkitsalright.nz (external link)

Check it's alright before you light

In New Zealand, 98% of wildfires are started by people.

Our simple 3-step tool tells you whether it’s safe to use outdoor machinery or if you can light a fire based on the current fire season and fire danger risk. You’ll also find safety requirements and general guidance to avoid starting a wildfire by accident.

Use our 3-step Can I light a fire? tool - Checkitsalright.nz (external link)

Before a wildfire

Know your neighbours

Get involved in your community and get to know your neighbours so you can contact each other in an emergency, and so everyone understands the risks of wildfire in your area. 

Plan your escape route

Identify a safe zone that is clear of vegetation in case you can’t evacuate and have to shelter in place.

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.

Talk about the impacts — Getready.govt (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.

Work out what supplies you need — Getready.govt (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).

Make a plan — Getready.govt (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.

Tailor your plan — Getready.govt(external link) 
Animals affected by fire - advice for livestock, lifestyle block, horse and pet owners - Mpi.govt.nz (external link)

During a wildfire

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.

If you have time before you evacuate:

  • turn on sprinklers
  • fill gutters with water
  • wet down materials like firewood that may fuel the fire.

If there is time, you can also:

  • move vehicles to a safe location
  • move lightweight outdoor items inside
  • wet down the sides of buildings, decks and plants close to your home
  • move animals and livestock to a well-grazed or ploughed area
  • close windows, doors and vents, and shut blinds
  • seal gaps under doors and windows with wet towels.

Stay informed

Emergency services will always aim to alert communities to an approaching fire, but there may not always be time to issue an official warning.

Find your local Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) Group - Civildefence.govt.nz (external link)

After a wildfire

Only return home if you are told it is safe to do so

Watch out for firefighters still working in the area. Some roads may still be closed.

Stay informed

The situation can change quickly and get worse again. Listen to the radio or follow your Civil Defence Emergency Management Group online.

Watch out for hazards

Watch out for burnt trees, hot embers on the ground and fallen powerlines.

Cleaning up after a wildfire

  • Get professional advice about ventilating and cleaning if your home or belongings smell of smoke.
  • Wear protective clothing when cleaning up.
  • Contact your local council’s environmental health officer for advice before using food, feed or water from storage tanks for drinking.

What to do after a wildfire - CDEM (external link)