Wildfires can be terrifying and destructive. They can cause damage to property, loss of life, and injuries. In order to protect yourself and your family, it is important to know how to prepare for a wildfire. This article will provide you with information on how to stay safe during a wildfire, how to evacuate properly, and what to do after the disaster has passed.
A wildfire is an uncontrolled fire that burns in an area of grass, shrubs, trees, or other combustible material. Wildfires can be started by lightning strikes, faulty campfires, cigarettes, or arson.
They can occur anywhere in the world and are most common in the western United States.
Wildfires are most common in the late summer and early fall, but they can occur at any time of year.
How to Prepare for Wildfires
Most wildfires begin unnoticed and spread quickly, so it is best to be prepared in advance. The following sections will show you how to be well-prepared.
Always Stay Informed: Emergency Alerts
One of the best ways to prepare for a wildfire is to stay informed about the latest news and updates.
There are many ways to do this, but some of the most effective include downloading weather apps, signing up for FEMA alerts, monitoring air quality warnings, and looking at the Emergency Alert System.
All of these resources will help you stay aware of any potential dangers and allow you to make informed decisions about how to best protect yourself and your family.
When a wildfire strikes, it is essential to have an emergency plan in place and make sure your family is aware of the plan.
You need to know your evacuation zone so you can quickly and easily get to safety when need be.
You should also have a list of local authorities and organizations you can contact in an emergency.
Also, always listen to authorities about wildfire safety and evacuate to a safe location when told to do so.
Prepare Your Home
There are many things you can do to prepare your home in case of a wildfire.
Before the fire:
- Build your home with fire-resistant materials
- Put mesh screens over roof vents to keep embers from entering
- Landscape your home with fire-resistant plants
- Install a smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector
- Equip your home with a fire extinguisher and make sure everyone knows how to use it
- Create a defensible space around your home
You can always contact your local fire department for more information on best preparing your home for a wildfire.
During the fire (right before evacuating):
- Turn off any natural gas.
- Close windows to reduce radiant heat.
- Close doors to prevent drafts.
- Move combustibles like lawn furniture and wood piles away from your home.
During the fire (if not evacuated in time):
- Have a portable air cleaner to help filter the air.
- Wet towels or sheets to cover windows and doors.
- Turn off all electronics.
- Get to the lowest level of your home.
Prep a To-go Bag
If you need to evacuate quickly, it is important to have a bag packed with essentials such as a first aid kit, food, and important documents.
First aid kit should include:
- Antiseptic wipes
- Pain medication
Other suggested items:
- A change of clothes
- Non-perishable food and water
- Masks to limit breathing in wildfire smoke
- Important documents – such as copies of your driver’s license, passport, birth certificate, etc.
You may also want to include items for entertainment or distraction, such as books, games, or puzzles.
Also, try to avoid packing flammable materials that aren’t absolutely necessary.
After the Wildfire
Once the fire has passed, there are still some things you need to keep in mind.
- Do not return to your home until authorities say it is safe to do so.
- When you return, wear protective clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, and sturdy shoes.
- Be sure to check your home for any heat pockets, which can be dangerous.
- Continue to monitor the air quality in your area.
- Avoid hot ash, embers, and charred trees.
Preparing for a wildfire can seem daunting, but it is an important task to protect yourself, your family, and your home.
Always stay informed, have an evacuation plan in place, and prepare your home and to-go bag in case of emergency.
By following these steps, you can help ensure a safe and smooth recovery from a wildfire.