If you watch the TV or read the papers, you know it’s time for the wildfires! As the heat rises, and the vegetation dries, we’re only a spark away from disaster. Will you be ready?
If you live on a remote hillside, or in a valley, prairie or forest where flammable vegetation is plentiful, you could be vulnerable to wildfires. These fires are usually triggered by lightning or accidents.
1. Fire facts:
o Once a fire starts in a rural area, it is hard to control. Wildland firefighters are trained to protect natural resources, not our homes or buildings. The fact that many homes are located far from fire stations, causes longer emergency response times. Within a matter of minutes, an entire home can be destroyed by fire. Limited water supply in rural areas can make fire fighting difficult. Homes that are secluded and surrounded by woods and brush fuel fires.
2. Be prepared and have a fire safety and evacuation plan:
o Practice fire escape and evacuation plans.
o Mark the entrance to your property with address signs that are clearly visible from the road.
o Know which local emergency services to call and have those numbers posted near telephones.
o Provide access for emergency vehicles at least 12 feet wide with turnaround space.
3. Tips for making your property fire resistant:
o Keep lawns cut, leaves raked, and the roof and rain-gutters free from leaves and sticks.
o Keep Stacked firewood at least 30 feet away from your home.
o Store flammable things in metal containers outside the home at least 30 feet away from buildings and wooden fences.
o Create a “defensible space” by thinning trees within 30 feet around your house.
o Landscape with more fire resistant plants to prevent fire from spreading quickly. For example, hardwood trees are more fire-resistant than pine, evergreen, eucalyptus, or fir trees.
o Make sure water sources, such as hydrants, ponds, swimming pools and wells, can be reached by the fire department.
4. Protect your home:
o Use a fire resistant or protective roofing materials like stone, brick and metal to protect your home.
o Cover all exterior vents, attics and eaves with metal mesh screens to prevent debris from collecting and to help keep sparks out.
o Install multi-pane windows, tempered safety glass or fireproof shutters. This helps to protect large windows from heat.
o Use fire-resistant draperies.
o Have chimneys, wood stoves and all heating systems inspected and cleaned every year.
o Insulate chimneys and place “spark arresters” on top.
NOTE: The chimney should be at least three feet above the roof, and be sure to remove branches around the chimney, or any that hang over.
5. Follow local burning laws:
o Do not burn trash or other yard waste without knowing local burning laws.
o Before burning anything in a wooded area, make sure you notify local authorities and obtain a burning permit.
o Use an approved incinerator with a safety lid or covering with holes no larger than 3/4 inches.
o Create at least a 10-foot clearing before burning debris.
o Have a fire extinguisher or garden hose on hand when burning.
6. If a wildfire threatens your home (and you have time), consider this:
o Shut off gas at the meter. Turn off pilot lights.
o Open fireplace damper. Close fireplace screens.
o Close windows, vents, doors, blinds or noncombustible window coverings. Remove flammable drapes.
o Move furniture into the center of the home away from windows and sliding-glass doors.
o Close all interior doors and windows to prevent drafts.
o Gather people and pets into one room. Make plans to care for your pets if you must evacuate.
o Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape. Leave the key in the ignition and the car doors unlocked. Close garage windows and doors.
o Seal attic and ground vents.
o Turn off propane tanks.
o Place combustible patio furniture inside.
o Connect garden hose to outside taps. Place lawn sprinklers on the roof and near above-ground fuel tanks. Wet the roof.
o Wet or remove shrubs within 15 feet of the home.
o Gather fire tools such as a rake, axe, handsaw or chainsaw, bucket, and shovel.
7. If you are advised to evacuate, do it! Don’t wait. Choose a route away from the fire.
The secret of dealing with all disasters is being prepared!!! With a lot of thought and preparation, situations that may have been deadly, can often be dealt with safely.