The threat of wildfires for people living or using recreational facilities near the wilderness is real. Dry conditions at various times of the year and in various parts of the United States greatly increase the potential for wildfires.
An emergency plan can decrease the devastation caused by a wildfire. Protecting your home from wildfires is your responsibility. To reduce the risk, you’ll need to consider the fire resistance of your home, the topography of your property and the nature of the vegetation close by.
Wildfire Safety Procedures
Wildfires can move quickly and change direction without warning. If you see a wildfire, be sure to call 911 immediately.
Next, evacuate your residence or business as quickly as possible.
If you have time, follow these tips to protect your home:
- Remove combustibles from your home and place them outside.
- Close all of your doors, windows and blinds.
- Shut off the gas in your home; however, remember only a professional can turn the gas back on.
- Fill large containers, bathtubs, etc. with water.
- Make sure your car is packed and ready to go. Secure valuables that you cannot live without (important documents) inside your car for quick evacuation.
- When preparing to leave your home, leave all of your lights on so your home is visible in smoke and leave your doors unlocked to allow firefighters access.
Survival in a Vehicle:
- This is dangerous and should only be done in an emergency, but you can survive the firestorm if you stay in your car. It is much less dangerous than trying to run from a fire on foot.
- Roll up windows and close air vents. Drive slowly with your headlights on. Watch for other vehicles and pedestrians. Do not drive through heavy smoke.
- If you have to stop, park away from the heaviest trees and brush. Turn headlights on and ignition off. Roll up windows and close air vents.
- Get on the floor and cover up with a blanket or coat.
- Stay in the vehicle until the main fire passes.
- Stay in the car. Do not run! Your engine may stall and not restart. Air currents may rock the car. Some smoke and sparks may enter your vehicle. Temperature inside will increase. Metal gas tanks and containers rarely explode.
If You Are Trapped at Home:
- Stay calm. As the fire front approaches, go inside the house. You can survive inside. The fire will pass before your house burns down.
If Caught in the Open:
- The best temporary shelter is in a sparse fuel area. On a steep mountainside, the backside is safer. Avoid canyons, natural “chimneys” and saddles.
- If a road is nearby, lie face down along the road cut or in the ditch on the uphill side. Cover yourself with anything that will shield you from the fire’s heat.
- If hiking in the backcountry, seek a depression with sparse fuel. Clear fuel away from the area while the fire is approaching and then lie face down in the depression and cover yourself. Stay down until the fire passes!
After a wildfire, it is vital to continue to check your home for burning embers, sparks, or hidden fires. The roof or the attic is the best place to check first. Be sure to put out any of these small burning embers or sparks.
If your home is on fire, dial 911.
Continue to check your home for several hours for the burning embers and sparks to avoid being caught off-guard.