Covid-19 might be on everyone’s mind right now, but if you’re staying safe at home, it is a good time to get prepared for the upcoming wildfire season. Wildfire season is typically June to August, but it really can vary depending on where you live. In some places in the United States, wildfires can occur as early as March. If your home is near a wildfire prone area, take steps now to get ready for a possible wildfire.
How Can I Prepare For a Wildfire?
Disaster preparedness lets you act quickly when a crisis does occur. Although you may not be able to change the path of a wildfire, you can protect your property and family if you are in the path of one. Knowing your risk of wildfire, and staying informed may save your life or home. Monitor alerts in your community, and consider these steps to be prepared in the event of a wildfire.
- Have an Evacuation Plan
Research what your community has advised in the event of a wildfire. You will want to plan the different possible routes out of your home to get out of the area. Discuss your plans with your family, and determine what you will do with your pets and livestock. You should also consider designating a safe place where you can shelter if you have to be away for an extended period of time. It is also in your family’s best interest to plan for the worst, teaching your children what to do if you are separated and encouraging them to memorize at least one phone number of someone outside of your household who can be contacted in case of an emergency.
- Pack an Emergency Kit
You will want to pack and have ready an emergency kit with all of the supplies needed so that you can easily grab it on your way out during an evacuation. This should contain true essentials such as non-perishables, specialized equipment, medications, pet foods, and anything else that you can truly not live without. You should also consider purchasing a fireproof safe to hold all of your most important documents, in the event that you need to be quickly evacuated.
- Check Your Landscape
Another beneficial tactic is to create a fire-resistant zone around your home. You will want to regularly clean up dry vegetation around the foundation of any buildings, and invest in a water-source and hose that will reach throughout your entire property. Landscaping elements should ideally be far enough apart that fire can’t easily jump between trees and plants. You would also benefit from installing fire breaks, such as brick walls or concrete paths to slow a fire’s progression.
- Use Fire-Resistant Materials on Your Home
As you build, repair, or renovate your home, consider investing in fire-resistant materials. Fire-resistant windows provide energy-efficiency in addition to being specially treated to prevent fire from breaking the windows as quickly as regular glass. As far as the structure of your home is concerned, stucco and brick don’t ignite as easily as wood, steel frames are better for homes in fire-prone areas. Additionally, roofing materials that are fire-resistant, such as slate, metal or concrete tiles can protect your roof, and prevent fire from entering your home from above.
- Check Your Insurance Policies
You will also want to examine your homeowners’ insurance policy to make sure that you’re covered in case of fire, and to what degree. You may need to increase the level of protection, based on the contents of your home and the current appraisal value. Prepare a list of your home’s contents, if your insurance company requires that. While you are doing this, you should also check your other policies, such as auto, health, and life. Make sure you have enough insurance in case of disaster.
As you would perform normally throughout the year, general checking and maintenance can be incredibly important during wildfire season. This can include basic things such as, maintaining your lawn by mowing regularly, pruning trees away from your home and other buildings, checking power lines for nearby branches and reporting them to your power company. Extra care should be taken with flammable materials, which should be stored in a safe location, such as stacking firewood in a location away from your home.
- Practice Skills You and Your Family May Need During a Wildfire
Teach your family fire prevention skills, such as putting out a fire completely, and how to operate a fire-extinguisher, as well as which situations call for their use. It is also necessary that you practice emergency responses to wildfires, as your family needs to be able to act quickly and calmly in a wildfire. It might also be a good idea to take a first aid refresher, and always have medical supplies available.
- Talk to Your Neighbors and Community
If your neighbors aren’t protecting their homes, it puts your home and those around you at risk. You need to work together to protect your community, so discuss current risk with community leaders and fire officials. Make sure your roads and addresses are well-marked to make it easier to find your home, and be aware of how your community will respond in the event of a wildfire.
- Know What to Do if You are Ordered to Evacuate
If you are ordered to evacuate, follow all instructions. If you have time, do the following to protect your home:
- Turn on outside lights to make your home more visible through smoke.
- Close windows, doors, flues, and any other places that let air into your home. You want to reduce the drafts to reduce the oxygen available for the fire.
- Move furniture away from the walls and windows, and remove flammable curtains.
- Turn off your gas.
As you evacuate, remember to drive slowly. Use your headlights, because smoke can reduce visibility. Roll up windows in your car, and close the vents to reduce the smoke that can get in your vehicle. Watch for other cars, animals, and pedestrians as you drive away. Be aware that traffic could be heavy, and try to remain calm, even though the situation may be stressful. Anxiety and panic increase the risk of accidents while you’re moving to safety.
If you do become trapped in your car or home, call 911 and give them your current location. Have a plan to protect yourself based on your location and proximity of the fire. You will not be able to outrun the fire, so staying under a heavy blanket or in an innermost room can give you extra time for emergency officials to find you. If you can get to a water source, such as a lake or bathtub, you can get inside the water for protection.
Learn More About Home Defense
As wildfire seasons get longer and more hazardous, you need to be prepared for the worst. PHOS-CHEK spray is a product you can apply around your home to make it more fire-resistant. It goes on quickly and easily, to give you added protection against wildfires for months.