What To Do if Trapped in Car by Fire While Evacuating

Fire near dirt road

A structure offers more protection than a car, so if there is a building nearby, get inside it. If there is no building, then stay in your car. It will be safer than being out in the open with direct exposure to flames and radiant heat.

  • Park the car in a safe place that has little or no vegetation.
  • Turn on headlights and emergency flashers to make your car more visible during heavy smoke.
  • Close all windows and doors, shut off all air vents, and turn off the air conditioner.
  • Get below the windows under blankets, preferably wool, and lie on the floor to shelter yourself from the intense radiant heat.
  • Stay in the vehicle, as it will provide you with some insulation from the heat.
  • Once the fire front passes and temperature has dropped outside, get out and into a safe area that has already burned.

Article Written by:
Glenn Nader, University of California Cooperative Extension, Yuba City, CA
Greg Royat, CALFIRE Retired, Chico, CA
Art Craigmill, University of California Cooperative Extension, Davis, CA