Friday, July 22, 2011

Only you can prepare for wildfires

In the wise words of Smokey Bear, “only you can prevent wildfires.” Smokey and his catchphrase have helped teach generations of Americans about fire safety, still an important task as every year more than four out of five wildfires are caused by people. Knowing how to prevent and be prepared for a wildfire can help keep you safe.

Wildfires can occur anywhere, and often at a moment’s notice, so it’s important to be prepared. At the same time, it is helpful to know if your area is prone to wildfires or at high risk, such as living in an area with a lot of plant life or somewhere that has severe droughts. 

At home, you can take steps to reduce your risk of wildfires by clearing plants from around your house; cleaning your gutters, roof and chimney; and using flame-resistant materials on your roof. There are also steps you can take if you know a fire is approaching, such as moving materials away from the house that may burn and shutting off the gas.

Firefighters battle a wildfire in Florida in
1998. (Photo by Liz Roll, courtesy FEMA)
Because wildfires are so unpredictable, it’s important to plan ahead. At home, you should install smoke detectors on every floor and regularly change the batteries to make sure that they are working. In addition, place emergency phone numbers by every phone in your home and program them into your cellphone.

It’s also important to discuss an evacuation plan with members of your household about where and how you will meet if there is a fire outbreak. Have an emergency preparedness kit on hand with essential supplies such as a three-day supply of water and nonperishable food, a flashlight and a battery-operated radio. This way, if there is an emergency, you will be ready to leave right away. Never ignore an advisory to evacuate if local authorities issue one.

If you are trapped inside your home during a wildfire, stay inside and away from outside walls. Close doors, but leave them unlocked. If you are in a car near a wildfire, it’s best to stay in your car. Roll up your windows, close the vents and drive slowly.

For more information on how to prevent wildfires and how to handle them if they occur, check out the American Red Cross or websites.

1 comment:

bstanley said...

With fire season underway, PREPAREDNESS, not panic or fear, are the operative words.

I lost my house to careless people (a campfire on a windy day) in the Malibu Corral Fire in 2007. People need to prepare for the financial and insurance-related impacts of calamitous events including fires, hurricanes, explosions, earthquakes, floods, thefts, and other unpredictable emergencies. In hind sight, I wish I had done a home inventory!

Here’s a link to a DocuHome home inventory and it’s free...

What If You Lost it All?