Wildfires are extremely devastating events that you can’t fight back without preparation and learning some wildfire safety tips. Across the US, almost 54,000 wildfires reported per year between 2009-2018 where average structure damage is 4,000. According to these statistics, you have to be prepared for wildfires yet nobody took action until California disasters. Notice that, a wildfire can cause communication, transportation, gas, and power outages. Below, we prepared a checklist that you can use before, during and after a forest fire.
Precautions to be taken before the Wildfire
- Create at least 30 ft of empty space between your home and flammable plants and materials.
- Follow all local fire codes.
- If there are trees or plants nearby power lines that need to be trimmed, call for help. These trees can cause power outages.
- Prune all lower branches 8-10 feet from the ground because they may cause the fire to be spread faster.
- Do not keep your firewood close to your building.
- Pinecones can explode and pine needles and other leaves might be flammable, so keep roof surfaces and chimneys clear.
- Use fire-resistant materials if possible and keep your combustible or flammable materials in fireproof containers.
- Make an emergency evacuation plan with your family and practice regularly.
- Prepare an emergency kit;
- Three gallons of water per person, food supply for three days.
- N95 masks for each person to keep smoke out of the lungs.
- Copies of your identity cards, passports, insurance cards, etc.
- Spare some cash in small bills.
- Radio, flashlights, batteries, first-aid kit, necessary medication, bandana and/or goggles, and a satellite phone. These phones are great tools for communication in case of disasters and considered as “The Must-Have When Reporting on Disasters” by NY Times.
- Evacuations plans Make evacuation plans with family members. Include several options with an outside meeting place and contact person. Practice regularly.
- Make sure your car has gas, at least a quarter of a tank.
- For your insurance company, you have to take photos of the fire damage, so keep a camera or cell phone with a car kit.
What to do During a Wildfire
- Stay Calm! Turn on your radio and only follow the statements of the local authorities.
- While waiting, turn on all lights in order to detect smoke in your house.
- Close your windows, take down your curtains, move your furniture away from windows and cover with non-flammable coverings.
- When requested, evacuate all family members and pets. Because, in case of a wildfire, you can not fight back against it. So listen to local authorities.
- Before evacuation
- Turn off air conditioning/air circulation systems.
- Turn off all power and electrical appliances.
After the Wildfire
- Keep your family together.
- Turn on the radio. Wait for announcements before attempting to return to your home.
- Using your phone will cause unnecessary traffic and won’t help the authorities. Use your satellite phone for communication, because cell-phone infrastructure can get damaged or destroyed during a natural disaster.
- You have to be careful when entering a burned area, flare-ups can occur. So check for hot spots and bring a fire extinguisher or some water.
- Check all the places for sparks and embers. Notice they can start a fire even after days.
- Before you go inside, check around for gas smell and damaged cables, call for help.
- Enter your home carefully. Take photos for any damage and contact your insurance company.
If you need more information, Ready.gov is a great source for that.