During Fires

Safe Village – Safe People Self Protection Program

Self Protection measures in the event of rural fires

Knowing what to do in the event of a rural fire can help save your life and property. The following gives government advice on this subject which we share in accordance with the protocol Safe Communities Portugal has with the ANEPC.

The basis of this advice are two programs created by Resolution of the Council of Ministers no. 157-A / 2017, of October 27, which established a set of measures that the Government decided to introduce “a systemic reform in the prevention and fight against forest fires, extending to other areas of protection and relief.”

The “Safe Village – Safe People” program is defined as a “Population Cluster Protection and Forest Protection Program” and is intended to establish “structural measures for the protection of people and goods, and those built at the urban-forest interface, with the implementation and management of protection zones to clusters and strategic infrastructures, identifying critical points and places of refuge.” For its part, the “Safe People” program aims to promote “awareness-raising actions for the prevention of risk behaviour, self-protection measures and evacuation drills, in articulation with local authorities.”

The implementation of the “Safe Villages” and “Safe People” Programs is carried out under a Protocol between the National Emergency and Civil Protection Authority (ANEPC), the National Association of Portuguese Municipalities (ANMP) and the National Association of Parishes (ANAFRE).

Under this protocol, its implementation is carried out at operational level by municipalities and parishes.

Details about the Program including: What actions are developed under the Programs; who is the Local Security Officer, what channels are used to broadcast local-level warnings; what is a shelter or a collective refuge; what places can serve a collective shelter, what places can serve a collective refuge are outlined in the download below.


If you are affected by a rural fire

We all hope that we are never in a position where we are threatened by a rural fire, which is an alarming experience.

If unfortunately you do become threatened by a fire it is essential that proper steps are taken to help protect you, your family and property.

According to the Resolution of the Council of Ministers no. 157-A / 2018, of October 27, this latest program “Safe Villages – Safe People” outlines self-protection measure for the population in the event of a rural fire affecting people and their homes

The following list prepared by the Ministry of Internal Administration (updated in 2018) is based on their vast experiences outlines the basic steps to take.

The leaflets in Englishand other languages, translated by Safe communities Portugal,  can be downloaded below.

Videos produced by the ANEPC have been published in Portuguese with English subtitles by Safe Communities Portugal can be downloaded in Portuguese here and sound cloud here .


If a fire approaches your home

  • Let the neighbours know;
  • Water walls, roof and 10 meters around house;
  • Close doors, windows and other openings, close blinds or shutters;
  • Remove furniture, tarpaulins or firewood near the dwelling;
  • If it is safe to do so, disconnect and remove the gas cylinders to a safe place;
  • Keep away from the windows anything that can burn and put wet towels in the crevices;
  • If you are not in danger, extinguish small outbreaks with water, earth or green branches;
  • Follow the instructions of the authorities.


If you get surrounded by a fire

  • Make your way to a shelter or collective refuge. If you are not near one, look for a preferably flat area with water or little vegetation;
  • Breathe close to the floor, if possible with a wet cloth, to avoid inhaling the smoke;
  • Cover your head and the rest of the body;
  • Use a damp cloth to protect your face from heat and smoke.
  • Communicate your situation to the authorities through 112.


In case of confinement within the building

  • Keep calm;
  • Keep the curtains and sofas away from the windows;
  • Close doors, windows and other openings that allow the entrance of sparks to the interior;
  • Place wet towels in the crevices of doors and windows;
  • Stay away from walls;
  • Look for shelter in the rooms at the opposite end of the dwelling relative to the side where the fire is approaching;
  • Wait for the fire to pass, and then check for fire outbreaks surrounding the dwelling and on your roof.
  • Communicate your situation to the authorities through 112.


In case of Evacuation

  • Keep calm and obey the authorities instructions;
  • Help children, the elderly and people with mobility limitations;
  • Take your evacuation kit and identification documents;
  • Do not waste time collecting unnecessary objects and do not go back;
  • Close the doors and windows as you move out of the dwelling;
  • Take pets with you;
  • Make your way quickly to the nearest shelter or collective refuge
  • Comply with authority indications


Have an evacuation kit prepared with:

  • First-aid kit;
  • Your usual medication;
  • Water and non-perishable food;
  • Personal hygiene products;
  • A change of clothes;
  • Radio, flashlight and whistle;
  • Money;
  • Family / friends contact list


If you are near a fire

  • Immediately call 112;
  • If you are not in danger and have suitable clothing try to extinguish small outbreaks with shovels, hoes or branches;
  • Avoid exposure to smoke, cover your mouth and nose with a damp cloth;
  • Protect the body from flames and heat with dry and long clothing;
  • Do not impair the actions of firefighters, forest firefighters and other rescue forces and follow their instructions;
  • Remove your vehicle from the access routes to the fire;
  • If you notice the presence of people with high risk behaviour, inform the authorities.
  • Follow the indications of the authorities


Portugal Chama (Portugal is Calling)

Government Agency AGIF have produced very clear advice concerning prevention and self protection measures in Portuguese on the website Portugal Chama (Portugal is Calling) under the Safe Village – Safe People program which can be downloaded from their website here. 

More information can be obtained by calling 808 200 520.


Understanding How Fires Behave

The Forest Fire Research Centre is a branch of the Association for the Development of Industrial Aerodynamics (ADAI) closely connected to the Department of Mechanical Engineering (DEM) of the Science and Technology Faculty of Coimbra`s University (FCTUC). The Forest Fire Research Centre is mainly dedicated to the applied research in the field of forest fires and fires in the wildland urban interface (WUI) namely the physical aspects of the fire.

Since 1990, the Forest Fire Research Centre, with a dynamic and multidisciplinary team, has been developing its activities in order to learn, analyse, understand, apply and disseminate the knowledge developed.

The main goal of the Forest Fire Research Centre is the promotion of scientific knowledge about the phenomena related to the occurrence and spread of wildfires in order to support the common efforts for the mitigation of their negative impacts

A YouTube video showing their work in English can be downloaded here  and in Portuguese here

Safe Communities has met with Professor Domingos Xavier Viegas, Director of ADAI,  who has been researcher in the field of Forest Fires namely in Fire behaviour and Fire Safety since 1985. He has kindly undertaken to help Safe Communities Portugal by providing information on this subject, which we can disseminate to local communities. Professor Viegas was the coordinator of the enquiry team into the Pedrógão Grande fires in 2017.



In 2017 the General Directorate of Health (DGS) warned of the risks associated with exposure to smoke from forest fires, which resulted in devastation to parts of the country. DGS advice and actions to take are in the resource download below.


Video Series – Safe Village – Safe people – Self Protection Measures

Safe Communities has assisted the Ministry of Internal Administration in the production of videos with English sub titles showing what action to take if you are affected by a fire. These can be viewed below:

  1.  “If you near a fire”
  2.  “If a fire approached your home”
  3.  “If a fire approached your home 11”
  4.  “In case of evacuation” 
  5.  “In case of evacuation 11”
  6.  “In case of confinement within the building”
  7.  “If you get surrounded by a fire”
  8.  “Protecting your home”
  9.  “If you are near a fire 11”
  10.  “In case of confinement within a building 11″
  11.  “In case of evacuation 111 – Preparing a kit”

All prevention and protection information is from official sources


Resource Centre Downloads

  • Safe Village - Safe People Protecting yourself against rural fires brochure EnglishDownload
  • The Safe Village Safe People ProgramDownload
  • ANPC Preventive SMS WarningDownload
  • Safe Holidays LeafletDownload
  • Aldeia-Segura- Safe Village Safe People Cartaz- Poster A3-AFDownload
  • SAFE HOLIDAYS - prevent and protect yourself from wildfiresDownload
  • Exposure to smoke from Forest FiresDownload
  • Safe Village - Safe People leaflet (English)Download
  • Personnes en Sécurité - Village en Sécurité (French)Download
  • Sicheres Dorf - Menschen in Sicherheit (German)Download
  • Pueblo seguro - Gente segura (Spanish)Download
  • Безопасные поселения - Безопасные люди (Russian)Download
  • Veilig dorp - Mensen in Veiligheid (Dutch)Download