Wildfire Safety: How to Prepare
Wildfire season can extend from spring through fall in some areas. If your home is in a region that’s prone to wildfires, here are some steps you can take to be better prepared.
Preparing Your Property
Get ready to do some work outside, or to contract someone to do it for you. Use a chainsaw and other tools to clear a safe zone around your house. Depending on the type of trees in your area, this distance can vary. Pine forests are the most at-risk type for wildfires, and it’s recommended that you keep the trees cleared a minimum of 100 feet from your house.
Prune any trees that are close to your home. Any dead branches or low-hanging limbs should be removed. Clear out brush as well, and rake up dead leaves. These items all increase the risk of a wildfire damaging or destroying your home.
Get a ladder and prepare your roof. Keep it clean of any debris or flammable material, such as branches. Clear dead leaves out of your rain gutters.
If you use a wood stove, don’t stack your firewood against the house. Store it a good distance away, preferably uphill. Clear a safe zone around outside fuel tanks as well.
It’s also a good idea to have an outside water source available, such a large holding tank of water, a swimming pool or a pond. At the very minimum, have a garden hose that’s long enough to reach the full length of your yard.
Create an Evacuation Plan
Come up with a plan to evacuate your family in a worst-case scenario. Familiarize yourself with local roads and have alternate routes in mind, in case you have to leave. Practice the routes with your family.
Decide what you’ll take with you if there’s a fire. Invest in a fireproof safe for important documents, such as Social Security cards, tax records, birth certificates and more. You can even find fireproof safes that are portable, which you could throw in your vehicle in a pinch. If a wildfire struck while you were away from home, the safe would still preserve your documents or other valuables.
Prepare an Emergency Kit
If you’re forced to evacuate because of a wildfire, you’ll want to have some necessities that you can carry with you on short notice. It’s best to have these items prepared in an emergency kit. You can either purchase a pre-made kit, or assemble your own. Don’t forget to include these important items:
- Non-perishable foods
- Drinking water or a portable water purifier
- Flashlight, batteries, and a radio
- First aid kit and any extra medications you need
- Baby wipes, soap, and other necessary toiletries
- A tent and blankets
When a wildfire strikes, you might have to evacuate. Take the necessary precautions in advance. Prepare your property by making it a fire-safe location (as much as possible), and have an emergency kit and important documents ready to transport at a moment’s notice. Practice potential evacuation routes ahead of time, and you’ll be prepared for a wildfire.