Each year since 2000 has seen an average of 71,300 wildfires. These fires burn an average acreage of 6.9 million. Wildfires are unplanned and burn in areas like forests, grasslands, and prairies. Like any fire, wildfires spread quickly and can destroy not only natural areas, but residential homes and communities, as well. If you’ve prepared your family for a potential home fire, you have experience in what it takes to be ready for this type of event. We have outlined some steps you can take today to prepare for the event of a wildfire endangering your home.
1. Recognize Warning Signs
There are some key terminologies that you should be aware of if you live in a wildfire-prone area of the country. A Fire Weather Watch means you should start preparing for the event of a wildfire. A watch signifies that critical weather conditions are possible, though not imminent. Extreme Fire Behavior alerts you that fires are likely to rage out of control. These types of fires are difficult to predict because they can be erratic and dangerous. A Red Flag Warning means you need to take action, like being extremely careful with open flames. This alert would signify that wildfires are ongoing or imminent.
Ready.gov provides multiple suggestions of warning systems you can register with to receive community alerts in the event of a wildfire encroaching on your neighborhood.
2. Strengthen Your Home
When renovating or repairing your home, use fire-resistant materials wherever possible. Be sure to have an outdoor water source with a hose that can reach any area of your property, in the case you need to prevent or put out flames. Within at least 30 feet of your home, remove any debris or combustible materials like dead branches or fallen leaves. Make sure your roof and gutters are clean and branches are not hanging over the roof or chimney.
3. Gather Supplies
When having to evacuate in an emergency, it is important to have all the necessities packed together, ready to go. It is best to always have a basic emergency supply kit fully stocked year round. Stock your kit with plenty of water, non-perishable foods that don’t require a long cooking process, and utensils. Be sure to have first-aid supplies, like bandages and anti-bacterial creams. You can also have a change of clothes for each member of the family and other hygienic supplies. If you think you may find yourself on-the-go or at a local shelter, you may benefit from having a portable battery backup power station, like the HomePower ONE. On one charge, it can charge all of your devices to keep in contact with family and up-to-date on the latest news for up to seven days.
4. Make a Plan
In the case a wildfire threatens your home, you need to have a plan just as you would for a house fire. Sit down with your family sooner rather than later and make a plan, assessing the points of exit in your home. Decide what, if anything, you will bring with you (like grabbing important documents from your night stand) and assign that job to someone. It is important to understand how long you will allow your family to take to gather necessary supplies. If there is an initial warning for wildfires in your area, it may be best to keep all the necessities by the door or in the car for the quickest possible evacuation.
5. Learn Your Evacuation Zone
Every wildfire is different from the last, meaning you will never know how much or little time you will have to evacuate. Additionally, the fire may be coming from a different direction than a previous one had. This is why it is imperative that your family knows and practices more than one evacuation route. Your local authorities will alert you of which one you need to take when the time comes, but it is best you are familiar with all routes to keep your stress level as low as possible.
It is always best to be prepared for any emergency situation, but wildfires can be the most unpredictable. You may have to leave your home at a moment’s notice, and not know when it is safe to return. Learn your evacuation zones, make a plan with all your family members, and have emergency supplies ready to be thrown into a car. Sign up for emergency alert systems and protect your home as best you can by cleaning away flammable materials on your property. As always, Geneverse (formerly Generark) will be there to keep you connected to your family and community.
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