Droughts and dry conditions throughout various times of the year increase the risk for wildfires. Careless use of fire in highly wooded areas can also dramatically increase the chance of a wildfire, which can then quickly spread across trees and dry brush and threaten homes and businesses that are in vicinity.
Wildfires often begin unnoticed. However, they spread quickly and every second counts! Talk with members of your household about wildfires—how to prevent them and what to do if one occurs.
- If you see a wildfire and haven't received evacuation orders yet, call 9-1-1. Don't assume that someone else has already called.
- If ordered to evacuate during a wildfire, do it immediately- make sure and tell someone where you are going and when you have arrived.
- Many communities have text or email alerting systems for emergency notifications.To find out what alerts are available in your area, search the Internet with your town, city, or county name and the word “alerts.”
- If you or someone you are with has been burned, call 9-1-1 or seek help immediately; cool and cover burns to reduce chance of further injury or infection.
Steps in Advance
- Know where to go. If you are ordered to evacuate, know the route to take and have plan of where you will go. Check-in with your friends and family.
- Keep your car fueled, in good condition, and stocked with emergency supplies and a change of clothes. This is where a go bag will come in extremely handy, check our article out to get the full run down.
Prepare Your Home
- Regularly clean the roof and gutters.
- Maintain an area approximately 30’ away from you home that is free of anything that will burn, such as wood piles, dried leaves, newspapers and other brush.
- Connect garden hoses long enough to reach any area of the home and fill garbage cans, tubs, or other large containers with water.
- Review your homeowner's insurance policy and also prepare/update a list of your home's contents.
Returning to and Cleaning Your Home After the Fact
- Return home only when authorities say it is safe.
- For several hours after the fire, maintain a "fire watch." Check and re-check for smoke, sparks or hidden embers throughout the house, including the roof and the attic.
- Use caution when entering burned areas as hazards may still exist, including hot spots, which can flare up without warning. Evacuate immediately if you smell smoke.
- Wear a NIOSH certified-respirator (dust mask) and wet debris down to minimize breathing dust particles.
- Discard any food that has been exposed to heat, smoke or soot.
- Do NOT use water that you think may be contaminated to wash dishes, brush teeth, prepare food, wash hands, or to make ice or baby formula.
- Photograph damage to your property for insurance purposes.
This list is not all inclusive, but will give you a good start.
Sources: Read.gov, American Red Cross