Wildfires can happen at any time, but there is a lot you can do so that you and your loved ones are safe. No matter what you do, follow any emergency instructions that local authorities give you; they could save your life.
Preparing Your Home
Most people get injured or killed in a wildfire because of smoke inhalation or burns. You can reduce your risk by preparing yourself and your home if you live in an area prone to wildfires.
- Try building the home with flame-resistant material such as brick, stone, concrete or steel.
- Consider the defensible zone parameter. Even if you are within range of firefighters and a water source, there is no guarantee that access is possible. It can help to add a pond around the home or to install concrete or gravel in the yard instead of grass.
- Ensure that at the very least, there is 30 feet of clearance between flammable items and your home, including propane tanks, leaves, and main shut-off valves.
- Keep the lawn short and watered at all times. This will reduce the potential for fires to spread.
- Inspect your chimney and keep it in good repair to reduce the possibility of fires originating there.
- Keep the roof and gutters free from leaves, twigs, and branches.
- Ensure that recreational fires have a proper setting, and don’t have them at all during times which are considered high risk for wildfires.
- If possible, have a large source of water (swimming pool, pond) nearby, along with a good water hose.
Plan for the Worst
According to the National Interagency Coordination Center, wildfires burn millions of acres of land each year. They move rapidly and can change course quickly, depending on the weather and lanscape, so exit routes may be blocked by fire or cut off by emergency equipment. Either way, it’s good to prepare for the unknown.
- Gather Information
Know what to do before a wildfire occurs. Learn which local, state, and federal resources are available to you and where you can go to get help. Keep in mind that resources may be limited, so try not to rely solely on government entities to offer much help or assistance in the beginning. Sign up for email and SMS weather alerts, but keep a battery-powered weather radio within close reach so you can keep up-to-date, even if the power goes out.
- Create a Plan
Create an escape plan you discuss and train for before a wildfire occurs. Every family member should have a role and know what to do before, during, and after a wildfire. Make sure everyone knows the location of all exits, emergency kits, where to meet, and who to contact.
- Prepare an Emergency Kit
Prepare an emergency kit with enough resources to last at least 3 days. In fact, now is a great time to get your Bug Out bag together. If possible, keep at least 2 different kits so that family members have easy access no matter where they are. Take into consideration the family member count and what particular items are considered essential to survive, such as medications.
If you have a family, you are well acquainted with the responsibility that comes with caring for them. Preparing for a disaster is simply part of providing for and protecting your family.
~Here’s to Your Survival!
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