Over the past three months, FAC Net hosted a virtual learning group for 100 wildfire practitioners from across the country. Participants joined from 17 states and Canada! Over the course of the Learning Group, topics included evacuation planning, effective communication and a review of lessons learned from three recent fires. Participants had the opportunity both to interact with subject matter experts and each other to expand their knowledge of evacuation and better prepare their communities. Evacuation has so many facets and it’s never an easy topic to broach but it is essential to talk about, learn about and plan for. Here we share some of the fantastic resources highlighted during the Evacuation Learning Group.

Planning Guidance

If you are looking for a resource to help you or your community work through the evacuation planning process, this FREE, 2020 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) guide is a great start. Planning Considerations: Evacuation and Shelter-in-Place Guidance for State, Local, Tribal and Territorial Partners. This guide takes a whole-community approach, provides an overview of key concepts and critical considerations and dives into the planning process itself. 

Communication Resources

Communication Planning

If you are looking for tips and tools to help you communicate more effectively during evacuation, there are several great resources available to you: 

  • The Department of Homeland Security document, Best Practices in Wireless Emergency Alerts, contains guidance for establishing wireless emergency alerts as well as information on setting up a training and drilling program.  
  • FEMA also has a toolkit available for those who routinely issue alerts and warnings. The Alerts, Warnings, and Notifications Program Planning Toolkit contains a step-by-step, FREE, web-based app that helps you create a customized plan for alerts and warnings.  Users can input their own information, guided by prompts and informed by many of the available resources, and then save a Microsoft Word document that can be further edited and refined. 
  • The Federal Communications Commission website on multilingual alerting contains general guidance for issuing alerts and warnings in multiple languages. Some states, such as California, have created evacuation alert and warning templates in multiple languages.

Evacuation and warning wireless emergency alert template in Spanish from California.

Communication Materials for Residents

If you are looking for examples of materials to use when communicating with your community in advance of an evacuation, there are a number of good resources available.  

  • This Evacuation Guide from Fire Safe Marin helps community members prepare for evacuation as well as provides guidance for transportation and getting to safety.

Communication Materials for Livestock and Animals

Communication with those residents in rural areas where animals and livestock is a consideration is unique and requires different messaging. Here a few resources specific to that community:  

  • The American Veterinary Medicine Association has an excellent planning considerations resource that includes an equine and livestock evacuation kit checklist.
  • For those with small animals, the Humane Society recommends making an evacuation plan for your pets
  • You can also receive a FREE pet safety pack from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals by signing up for their news and alerts.  

    Example of stickers and placards for your home from the ASPCA.

Resident Decision-Making

There is a significant amount of research available on the decisions residents make during the evacuation process. Having a better understanding of what goes into a resident’s decision can inform communications and messaging. For example here a few varied sources of research focused materials:

Modeling and Tools

Our ability to model behavior, traffic flow and evacuation vulnerability continues to increase.  Several tools are available to help communities plan. 

The Resilience Analysis and Planning Tool Storymap


  • In 2020, FAC Net hosted a series of research presentations, including one on Evacuation Decision Making by  Dr. Sarah McCaffrey. 
  • In 2021, FAC Net hosted a two-part webinar series on evacuation planning and outreach. The practitioners which presented during Part One of the series represent a subset of the work being done on evacuation planning and preparedness around the country. Part Two brought together three research efforts to share insights with participants.  
  • The Federal Communications Commission hosted a webinar in 2019 on multilingual alerting with presentations, recommendations, resources and examples. 

From the Blog Archives

And to round it all up, here are some fantastic articles on the FAC Net blog about evacuation communication, wireless alerts and communication campaigns with residents.

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