The first step to evacuation is being aware that you are in danger.

Be Aware of Fire Weather: Red Flag Warning

  • The National Weather Service issues fire weather alerts, called Red Flag Watches, before fire weather arrives.
  • Sign-up for alerts: Code Red
  • Sign-up for National Weather Service severe weather alerts, which include red flag watches and warning, at
  • Follow Sacramento’s National Weather Service office @NWSSacramento
  • National Weather Service advisories, watches, and warnings for Yuba County:

Be Aware of Wildfire Alerts

  • Learn more about NOAA weather radios and how they are an excellent source of information during all kinds of disasters
  • Poor cell service or worried about no power? Purchase weather radio with alert sound

Weather Radio

Social Media


  • Sacramento’s National Weather Service office @NWSSacramento
  • Yuba County Office of Emergency Services @YubaCountyOES
  • Yuba County Sheriff @yubacountysheriff
  • Cal Fire Nevada-Yuba-Placer @CALFIRENEU
  • YubaNet @Yubanet




  • Register for CodeRED Emergency Alerts online
  • Create a managed account so you can modify your existing notification settings and contact information. Customize your alert preferences via phone call, text, and/or email.
  • Sign-up all phone numbers (landlines and cell phones) associated with your address, including roommates, children, parents, etc. This allows everyone to get the alert if there is an emergency.
  • Sign-up for multiple addresses, including your home, work, and your children’s school.
  • Add CodeRED’s two phone numbers 1 (866) 419-5000 and 1 (855) 969-4636 to your cell phone and/or landline contacts as “CodeRED Emergency Alerts.” This way, when you receive a phone call from either of CodeRED’s phone numbers during an emergency event, you will be able to recognize the call as a CodeRED alert rather than easily mistaking the 1-866 or 1-855 number as a telemarketer.
  • Add CodeRED’s phone numbers (1 (866) 419-5000 and 1 (855) 969-4636) to cell phone favorites, and allow your favorites to ring out loud during the night so that you will always be notified of an emergency.

All phone numbers associated with your address. For example, sign up your cell phone, your landline, and your family members cell phones who are living at your residence so everyone receives a CodeRED emergency alert during an emergency event in your neighborhood. Similarly, sign-up all colleagues at a work address.

The CodeRED Mobile Alert app receives notifications directly to your mobile device, however it is HIGHLY recommended to also register for CodeRED rather than just downloading the app. The CodeRED Mobile Alert app is freee and available through the Apple Store or Google Play.

CodeRED is a high-speed mass notification system designed to keep you safe in the event of an emergency. This service allows the county to deliver emergency or time-sensitive messages to you via text, email, landline, cell phone, RSS, social media, or a mobile application push. CodeRED alerts will display as originating from 1 (866) 419-5000 and 1 (855) 969-4636 on your caller ID. If you missed any of the message details, you can also dial the number back to hear the complete message.

CodeRED is used for emergency or time-sensitive situations to keep you informed. It is used for evacuation notices like floods or wildfires, boil water notices, criminal activity, and missing persons/children.

Yuba County officials create alerts for CodeRED and issue them to residents within the affected area.

You may not get any alert of a dangerous situation. If you feel that a situation is unsafe, you need to leave.

CodeRED is one of several methods that the county uses during an emergency; they use many ways of notification in case one fails. Other notifications include local media (KNCO, KVMR, YubaNet, and the Union); emergency alert radios; and the Sheriff’s Office in evacuation areas through door-to-door, vehicle PAs, and Hi Lo Sirens depending on time and resources. Other sources of info during an emergency may not be accurate, including word of mouth and social media.

Family Communication Plan

Being prepared makes a disaster less chaotic. Communication may break-down during a disaster, so it is important to:

  • Collect information on how to communicate with your family
  • Share this information with all family members and keep copy on fridge
  • Practice your plan.

Learn more about how to prepare your plan from FEMA and fill-out worksheets

Printable worksheet for adults

Printable worksheet for adults

Printable worksheet for Kids

Printable worksheet for Kids

Red Flag Warning and Watch

The US National Weather Service issues forecasts, warnings, and watches related to fire weather. During Red Flag Warnings, it is critical that residents are prepared to evacuate. And remember, one less spark could mean one less wildfire.

  • Red Flag Warning: Red Flag Warnings are issued by the National Weather Service if predicted weather conditions would lead to extreme fire behavior and rapid spread. Conditions are ongoing or predicted soon include strong winds, dry air, low moisture content in plants. Fire Departments increase staffing levels, residents are ready to evacuate, and residents are cautious not to create sparks and fires.
  • Fire Weather Watch or Red Flag Watch: Red Flag Warning weather conditions are expected soon.
  • Extreme Red Flag Warning: Extreme Red Flag Warnings is a new warning issued by the National Weather Service for the first time in October 2019 due to extremely dangerous fire weather. Conditions are ongoing or predicted soon include extremely strong winds, dry air, and low moisture content in plants. Fire Departments increase staffing levels, residents are ready to evacuate or pre-evacuate, and residents are cautious not to create sparks and fires.

Red Flag do’s and don’ts checklist

Do’s: Prepare for Evacuation


  • Don’t mow or trim dry grass on a Red Flag Warning Day. (Mow before 10 a.m. on a day when it’s not hot and windy)
  • Don’t use barbecues or fire-pits outdoors
  • Don’t use gas or electric power tools outdoors. Spark arrestors are required in wildland areas on all portable gasoline powered equipment
  • Don’t smoke outdoors
  • Don’t drive or park in dry grass or vegetation
  • Don’t drag trailer chains
Fire Weather Map

Fire Weather Map


Gather the following items in easy to carry backpack(s) well before fire season:

If you do not have your current physical address on your driver’s license, keep a copy in your car and in your purse/wallet (or a photo in your phone) of one of the following documents that shows your current physical address, not a PO box mailing address:

  • utility bill
  • vehicle registration
  • medical ID card
  • bank statement 
  • paycheck 
  • voter registration card
  • notarized landlord letter
  • Click Here for More ID Information:
  • Three-day supply of non-perishable food and three gallons of water per person.
  • Map marked with at least two evacuation routes
  • Prescriptions or special medications
  • Change of clothing
  • Extra eyeglasses or contact lenses
  • An extra set of car keys, credit cards, cash or traveler’s checks
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight
  • Battery-powered radio and extra batteries
  • Sanitation supplies
  • Copies of important documents (birth certificates, passports, etc.)
  • Don’t forget pet food and water!

Dress for survival:

  • Gather your evacuation clothes before fire season, and have them easily accessible.
  • Always keep a sturdy pair of shoes and a flashlight near your bed and handy in case of a sudden evacuation at night.

Items to take if time allows:


Early evacuation is the safest for you, your family, and our first responders. You will be less likely to get caught in road congestion, smoke, and danger if you leave early.

When to evacuate

  • If you feel that you are in danger:
    • During quickly evolving wildfires you need to be situationally aware and be prepared to evacuate if you feel you are in danger even without a formal evacuation order.

Before wildfire ignites on Red Flag Warning days

  • If you live in an area that is difficult to evacuate, you can consider self-evacuating when wildfires are predicted to have rapid growth. Consider evacuating before wildfire ignitions during Red Flag Warnings and especially during high wind events like those that cause Public Safety Power Shutoffs. You can visit with friends and family in nearby areas, take a mini-vacation, or go to the mall.
  • You can sign-up for severe weather alerts, which include red flag warning, at
  • Follow National Weather Service, Sacramento, California @NWSSacramento

Voluntary evacuation order

  • Officials prefer that you leave to protect your safety, and the safety of first responders. Leaving during a voluntary evacuation order may make your evacuation safer and easier than waiting for a mandatory evacuation order.

Mandatory evacuation order

  • Leave immediately and follow directions from Sheriff Department and Cal Fire

Evacuation Routes


Shelter-in-Place is not a common policy in California, although a few communities practice it, including Rancho Santa Fe in Southern California. Rancho Santa Fe local fire department enabled this policy because the community evacuation route was dangerous; it was through a narrow canyon with thick shrubs. Rancho Santa Fe has strict codes and enforcement about wide roadways, water supply, fire resistant homes, defensible space, and training that the Homeowners Association and Fire Department enforce. Residents are encouraged to evacuate early rather than shelter-in-place because this is the safest for residents and first responders. If residents cannot evacuate due to a quick moving fire, they either stay in their home or go to a community center.

Last resort in a temporary refuge

Wildfire Safety Zones or a last resort temporary refuge, a designated outdoor gathering area, are not common in California either. Camelot Meadow, a Wildfire Safety Zone in Butte County, saved numerous lives during the 2018 Camp Fire. It was established after the quick moving 2008 Humboldt Fire because people realized evacuating the Concow Basin may not be possible. In 2014, the Butte County Fire Safe Council and Yankee Hill Fire Safe Council worked with Cal Fire to create a wildfire public assembly safety zone in Concow. During the Camp Fire, sheriff deputies, firefighters and residents gathered in the meadow while 100 ft flames licked at the meadow’s borders. The group had many scary moments as firefighters helped them shuffle around meadow to stay away from the100+ foot tall flames and radiant heat.

While wildfire safety zones are uncommon, they can be a back-up plan for quick moving fires. If you are interested in these zones, it is important to work with the Yuba County Office of Emergency Services, Yuba Watershed Protection and Fire Safe Council, and your local fire department to identify and modify areas so best protect peoples’ lives. There are no formal recommendations for resident safety zones, but there are recommendations for firefighter safety zones who have training and special gear. Firefighter safety zones are supposed to be four times as great as the flame heights. If you have a Ponderosa pine that’s torching 150 feet high, you would need 600 feet around the people. New research has found that sign.

A Wildfire Safety Zone at Camelot Meadow. (Photo: Butte County Fire Safe Council)

Beyond Evacuation: Shelter-in-Place, Temporary Refuge, and Entrapment

Yuba County is unfortunately at great risk to quick moving deadly and destructive fires. In rural areas, like Yuba County, the safest choice is to evacuate early sometimes even before a fire ignites. Buildings can be replaced, but lives cannot. If you live in an area of limited road access (one way in and out) and could be trapped by a fire, then you should plan ahead for the possibility. Prepare to evacuate before a wildfire ignition during Red Flag Warnings, especially during North Wind events, and prepare for the possibility that you may not be able to evacuate due to a quick moving fire. 

Early evacuation is always the safest option for wildfire survival and this may include evacuating before an ignition on a Red Flag Warning day especially with North Winds predicted. Evidence from Australia, where Shelter-in-Place is a policy, demonstrates that the policy risks lives especially if protocol is not followed. Australia implemented a program with residents and fire departments to train those interested in sheltering in place about the physical and emotional demands, how to prepare their property, and how to survive a fire; this information reduces the risk to people’s lives when they complete the training and preparations at home. Early evacuation is recommended for children, the elderly, and people with special needs or a disability should be well away from the threat. Special needs include people with physical or mental conditions such as a disability, asthma, heart problems, emotional or mental health problems.

“Historically, late evacuation has been a major cause of bush fire fatalities … As such, Australian fire services try to discourage people from leaving at the last minute, when they are more likely to encounter hazards such as flames, fallen trees, thick smoke and road accidents. …” Defending your property from wildfire or sheltering in place are also dangerous, so Whittaker recommends “ … a practice called active sheltering, which may include extinguishing fires both inside and around the house, monitoring the fire’s location or leaving a burning house to seek refuge in a nearby location, like an already burned-out field. It’s also important to shelter in a room with two exits and with a clear view of the outside, ideally on the side of the house farthest from the fire.”

– Joshua Whittaker, Research Fellow, University of Wollongong’s Center for Environmental Risk Management of Bushfires

Other resources

Australia has tested alternatives to evacuation more so than any nation or state. Unfortunately, they’ve had mixed results. During Black Saturday in 2009, 173 people lost their lives, especially during late evacuations and defending their property. During Black summer in 2019-2020, 34 people lost their lives. Their latest recommendations are based on studies of survival and lives lost during these wildfires. As Australia alters their recommendations and experiences more fires, their recommendations will continue to be refined. When you research these evacuation alternatives, always use the latest recommendations.

Australia’s Country Fire Authority