As our communities grow, more and more people are being exposed to the risk of wildfires. According to the National Fire Protection Association, around 45 million homes and 72,000 communities are at risk of experiencing wildfires. Wildfires can spread rapidly across large areas of land especially during droughts and dry weather conditions.
Here are a few steps you can take prepared for wildfires in your area:
Before a Fire
Understand your risk
- Talk to your local planning office or fire department to discover what the risk of wildfire is in your area.
- Find out if your community has a warning system. Local tv and radio will likely have up-to-date information. NOAA weather stations will also provide emergency alerts.
- Pay attention to local weather conditions and fire risk notices.
- Find out and understand your community’s evacuation plan. If your community doesn’t have a plan, create one for your family, include multiple evacuation routes in case some are blocked.
- Create an emergency kit and regularly check/restock items. Make sure to include N95 respirators to protect your lungs from harmful particles.
- Place important documents in your emergency kit, protected digital copies, or a fireproof safe.
- If possible, create a plan to shelter at a friend or family home outside of the hazard zone. Alternatively, identify shelters available. The Red Cross helps coordinate many of these shelters. You can find a map of active shelters on the Red Cross website here.
Protect your home
- Maintain landscaping during fire risk. Make sure to clear out dead and overgrown plant life on your property especially anything within 10 feet of your home.
- Clear out vegetation and debris from roofs, gutters, and under or on top of decks, patios, and porches.
- Keep your lawn well maintained. Water if you can, if not, keep grasses short and remove clippings as soon as possible. Dry grass is great fuel for fires.
- Cover attic vents, and eave soffits with wire mesh to prevent the entry of sparks and embers.
- Stay up-to-date on the latest information.
- Place and outdoor furniture and decorations securely inside your home or as far away as possible.
- Put your emergency kit in your car ready for evacuation.
- Use your N95 respirator to protect your lungs.
- Leave garden hoses connected to outdoor faucets and fill out any large containers around your home such as pools, tubs, even garbage cans. This may help firefighters help put out fires around your home.
- Evacuate as soon as authorities request you to do so. If possible, leave earlier.
- If you can’t get out, call 911. Depending on the severity of the fire first responder may be delayed or may not be able to get to you.
- Shelter in a safe location until authorities have deemed it safe.
- Don’t enter any building until you can confirm it is safe.
- Avoid ash pits and downed electrical lines.
- Watch out for hidden embers and hot spots.
- Wear protective clothing and gear when doing any sort of clean up.
For more detail information on wildfire preparedness check out these sources:
Prepare today the Cascadia way!