Wildfire Safety Tips; Before, During and After

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.

 

california-wildfire

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.