Wildfires happen every year in heavily wooded areas of the U.S. and people that live near these areas are at great risk once a wildfire starts. Most wildfires are actually caused by people due to unattended camp fires, burning debris, cigarette butts, and even arson but they can also be caused naturally by a lightning strike or lava from a volcano. The NFPA estimates that there are about 45 million homes near heavily wooded areas and once a wildfire starts, these homes are at serious risk for fire damage or worse. Homeowners should be aware of wildfires in their area and protect their homes with these wildfire safety tips.
Preparing for a Wildfire
- One of the most important elements of preparedness is creating a wildfire evacuation plan so that your family knows how to evacuate safely if a wildfire approaches. Make sure to practice this plan and put together an emergency kit with supplies to take with you.
- Keep fire extinguishers around your home and make sure the members of your household know how to use them.
- Establish a safety zone that extends 30 to 100 feet around your home by removing dead tree branches, loose leaves, vines, and other flammable vegetation. You should also trim your trees when necessary, keep your roof and gutters free of debris, and mow your lawn regularly.
- Inspect your chimney and clean it when necessary.
- Make sure there are smoke detectors on every floor of your home and test them regularly.
- You should have certain tools including an axe, ladder, shovel, rake, and chainsaw handy at all times.
- Keep a garden hose handy as well as large containers of water in case you need to extinguish a fire.
If a wildfire approaches your home, listen to the news for orders of a wildfire evacuation and carry out your evacuation plan if an order is given. If you are not forced to evacuate, then you can follow these tips for wildfire protection:
- Wear protective clothing that won’t set on fire from sparks or ashes and wear a mask if you step outside.
- Remove items from your yard that are flammable such as lawn chairs, firewood, and grills.
- Keep your windows and doors closed to prevent a draft in your house and remove any flammable curtains and other window dressings.
- Move flammable furniture to the center of your home.
- Keep your garage door closed.
- Shut off the gas supply to your house at the main valve.
- Get ready to try and extinguish fires on your property with a garden house or fire extinguisher.
- Load your car with emergency supplies and anything else you would need in case you have to suddenly evacuate.
- Turn on all interior and exterior lights so that firefighters can find your home in the smoke.
- Keep checking the news for updates about the wildfire in your area.
Homeowners that live near heavily wooded areas should always be on the alert for wildfires in their area and if there is a wildfire nearby, these wildfire safety tips will help you protect your home from damage. If your home is damaged because of a wildfire, fire damage restoration professionals can help restore the damage. Make sure to call for fire damage restoration immediately because fire damage will get worse once it starts and always protect yourself and your family before your physical property in a wildfire.