Wildfire Safety Tips
If you were told to evacuate your home because a wildfire was threatening the area, would you be prepared? In the event of a natural disaster, it is best to have your belongings as prepared as possible beforehand, so that you do not have to worry about gathering and finding things in the moment. Here are some tips on what you can do to make the process as smooth as possible:
- Develop a communication plan. Who will be responsible for calling and checking on each family member/friend? What number is best to reach each person at?
- Locate two ways out of each room in the house, and develop two escape routes out of your neighborhood.
- Pick out a meeting spot with your family and plan to meet there if you are in different locations when disaster strikes, or if you get separated during your evacuation.
- Regularly back up your electronic devices to a cloud or external hard drive. This ensures that if your electronic device is lost or destroyed during a fire, you will not lose all of the information stored on it.
- Along the same lines, scan and electronically store any important documents on a cloud or external hard drive, such as: medical records, birth/death certificates, meaningful photos, etc.
- After scanning your important documents, store them in a secure fire-proof box to protect from damage.
- Take a comprehensive inventory of your possessions using photos or videos to assist in insurance claims after a wildfire, (ex. electronic devices, jewelry, contents of closets, drawers, antiques, furniture, etc.). A video tour of your house is also recommended in order to assist claims agents. This will give them a better understanding of the condition of your walls, flooring, light fixtures, etc.
- If possible, take a first aid / CPR class. Your training in the event of an emergency could save lives.
In the event that you are on the road when disaster strikes:
- Have two days’ worth of clothing, toiletries and basic survival items in an easy-to-carry bag or container stored in your vehicle.
- Carry a spare USB/connector cable for in-car cellphone use and charging, and a 110 volt converter plug for wall-use when the opportunity arises.
- Keep a small amount of cash readily available in the event that wide-spread power outage precludes the use of ATM devices, or if disaster strikes during non-business hours.
Although you cannot control wildfires, you do have some power to help prevent potential damage to your house or property. The following tips are things that you can do to help protect yourself and your family.
- Landscape your home with wildfire safety in mind by choosing fire-resistant plants.
- Use fire resistant, non-combustible materials on your roof and exterior, and treat wood with fire-retardant chemicals evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
- Regularly clean roof and gutters to remove buildup that may become a potential fire hazard. Remove branches that overhang the roof, making sure they do not come in contact with electrical wires and are at least 15 feet from the chimney.
- Create a safety zone at least 30 feet from all structures by removing all flammable vegetation.
- Install a dual sensor smoke alarm on each level of your house, especially near bedrooms. Be sure to test and check the batteries once a month.
- Have accessible fire extinguishers and household items that can be used as fire tools, such as: a rake, bucket or shovel.
- Identify an adequate outside water source—such as a hydrant, pond or swimming pool—that can be used in an emergency to combat the wildfire.
- Keep a garden hose that is long enough to reach all areas of your home and other structures on your property.
Immediately after a wildfire is it important to remain calm and follow instructions from fire officials. The following are things to keep in mind in the aftermath of a wildfire.
- Go to a designated public shelter if you have been told to evacuate or you feel it is unsafe to remain in your home. Text SHELTER + your ZIP Code to 43362(4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (example: shelter 12345).
- For several hours after the fire, remain on fire watch. Re-check for smoke and sparks throughout the area.
- Do not enter your home unless it has been deemed safe to do so by fire officials.
- Watch animals closely and keep them under your direct control. Hidden embers and hot spots could burn your pets’ paws or hooves.
- Discard any food that has been exposed to heat, smoke or soot.
- Do not use contaminated water.
- Wet debris to minimize breathing in dust particles.
- Remain calm and pace yourself. If you find yourself in a position of leadership, listen carefully to what those around you are telling you and deal with urgent situations first.