Preparing for Wild Fire
The threat of wildland
fires for people living near wildland areas or using recreational facilities in
wilderness areas is real. Advance planning and knowing how to protect buildings
in these areas can lessen the devastation of a wildland fire.
Learn and teach safe fire
- Build fires away from
nearby trees or bushes.
- Always have a way to
extinguish the fire quickly and completely.
- Never leave a
fire--even a cigarette--burning unattended.
Obtain local building
codes and weed abatement ordinances for structures built near wooded areas.
materials when building, renovating, or retrofitting structures.
Create a safety zone to
separate the home from combustible plants and vegetation.
- Stone walls can act as
heat shields and deflect flames.
- Swimming pools and
patios can be a safety zone.
Check for fire hazards
- Install electrical
lines underground, if possible. Keep all tree and shrub limbs trimmed so
they don't come in contact with the wires.
- Prune all branches
around the residence to a height of 8 to 10 feet. Keep trees adjacent to
buildings free of dead or dying wood and moss.
- Remove all dead limbs,
needles, and debris from rain gutters.
- Store combustible or
flammable materials in approved safety containers and keep them away from
- Keep chimney clean.
- Avoid open burning
completely, and especially during dry season.
Install smoke detectors on
every level of your home and near sleeping areas.
Make evacuation plans from
home and from neighborhood.
Plan several routes in case the fire blocks escape route.
Have disaster supplies on
Cash and credit cards
- Flashlight with extra
battery-operated radio and extra batteries
- First aid kit and
- Emergency food and
Develop an emergency
In case family members are separated from one another during a wildland fire (a
real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children are at
school), have a plan for getting back together.
Ask an out-of-state
relative or friend to serve as the "family contact." After a disaster,
it's often easier to call long distance. Make sure everyone knows the name,
address, and phone number of the contact person.
Avoid using wooden shakes
and shingles for a roof. Use tile, stucco, metal siding, brick, concrete block,
rock, or other fire-resistant materials. Use only thick, tempered safety glass
in large windows and sliding glass doors.
Contact your local
emergency management office or American Red Cross chapter for more information
on wildland fires.
Turn on a battery-operated
radio to get the latest emergency information.
Remove combustible items
from around the house.
- Lawn and poolside
- Tarp coverings
Take down flammable drapes
and curtains and close all venetian blinds or noncombustible window coverings.
Take action to protect
- Close all doors and
windows inside your home to prevent draft.
- Close gas valves and
turn off all pilot lights.
- Turn on a light in each
room for visibility in heavy smoke.
- Place valuables that
will not be damaged by water in a pool or pond.
- If hoses and adequate
water are available, leave sprinklers on roofs and anything that might be
damaged by fire.
Be ready to evacuate all
family members and pets when fire nears or when instructed to do so by local
Take care when re-entering
a burned wildland area. Hot spots can flare up without warning. Check the roof
immediately and extinguish any sparks or embers. Check the attic for hidden
burning sparks. For several hours afterward, re-check for smoke and sparks
throughout the home. If trapped in a Wildland Fire
You cannot outrun a fire. Crouch in a pond or river. Cover head and upper body
with wet clothing. If water is not around, look for shelter in a cleared area or
among a bed of rocks. Lie flat and cover body with wet clothing or soil.
Breathe the air close to
the ground through a wet cloth to avoid scorching lungs or inhaling smoke.