Tips for Thought

Wildfires are unplanned and uncontrolled fires that occur in natural areas. These areas can be in any ecosystem, such as forests, grasslands, or savannas. Wildfires may be caused by human activity or as an aftermath of a natural event such as lightning strikes. Wildfires are dangerous because they can destroy human and animal lives and affect the quality of natural and artificial resources.

Wildfires can occur anywhere in the world, although arid areas are more prone to their risks. If you happen to live near the site of possible wildfires, here are some helpful wildfire safety tips:

What to Do Before a Wildfire:

Areas that are extremely dry and prone to drought are usually more likely to have wildfire incidents. If you live in such an area, here are some wildfire safety preparation tips before it happens:

1. Keep your yard or garden neat.

This step includes the following:

  • Inspect your yard for any fallen branches, leaves, or debris.
  • Trim your trees and shrubs to avoid electrical wires hanging over your chimney. You can call a professional to do hard-to-reach places.
  • Keep trees free from dead or dying branches.
  • Keep your roof, chimneys, and gutters clear from leaves, pine needles, and other debris.

2. Keep firewood away from home. Do not stack your pile under your deck, on the deck, or against your home or shed. Ideally, the pile should be thirty feet away from your house. You can stack wood in crushed gravel or mineral soil. However, you can also keep them in a box of noncombustible materials for added security.

3. Store essential documents in a fireproof container. These include birth certificates, transcripts of records, government papers, passports, paper money, etc.

4. Pack a wildfire survival kit. Your wildfire survival kit should be an essential part of your evacuation plan. This kit must include the following:

  • Fireproof box of important documents;
  • Canned goods and water bottles;
  • Battery-powered radio and flashlights;
  • Extra batteries;
  • Blankets;
  • Extra clothes; and
  • Communication devices and travel chargers

5. Decide on an evacuation plan with your family. Learn where to go during emergencies, what to bring, what to do in worst-case scenarios, and how to stay calm.

What to Do During a Wildfire:

In worst-case scenarios, you may be trapped in your home during a wildfire emergency. If this happens, here are some handy tips for surviving during a wildfire:

1. Turn on the radio for the latest emergency announcements.

2. If you have a ladder, prop the ladder against the house so you and the firefighters can access the roof.

3. Set hoses and an adequate water supply. Fill several buckets with water.

4. Remove flammable material surrounding the house, like wooden chairs and tables.

5. Turn lights in each room for visibility in case smoke occurs.

6. Remove all flammable curtains.

7. Close all non-flammable curtains like venetian blinds etc.

8. Move furniture away from windows and glass doors.

9. Gather your loved ones and prepare to evacuate with your wildfire survival kit. Secure your pets with you.

What to Do After a Wildfire:

The fire has ended, and it’s safe to come back home. Here are some things to do after the fire is gone:

1. Ensure that fire officials deem it safe to head back home.

2. Enter with caution when entering a burned area for possible flare-ups.

3. Check grounds for any hotspots like smoldering patches, shrubs, or stumps. Use buckets of water to put them out.

4. Check the roof and exterior areas for possible sparks and embers.

5. Check the attic and crawlspace for hidden sparks and embers.

6. Check the rest of your house for problem areas. Keep your children and pets away. You can let them stay with a responsible family member.

7. Contact emergency hotlines for any possible dangers.

Takeaway: Wildfires can occur anywhere in the world. With knowledge and careful preparation, you can survive wildfires with calmness and certainty.