Last week, a wildfire spread through Northern California killing over 40 people and destroying nearly 5,700 homes and businesses. This was a very tragic incident that unfortunately can occur anywhere, anytime, and destroy homes, businesses, infrastructures, natural resources, and agriculture.
Wildfires are unplanned and can result in many consequences including death or injury to people and animals, damage and destruction of buildings and structures, and a disruption of community services including transportation, gas, power, communications, and other services. They can start from natural causes such as lightning, but are most often caused by humans either intentionally or accidentally — from cigarettes, campfires, or outdoor burning.
Although wildfires are unplanned and can occur at any time, we can make a plan to ensure our safety and know how to respond if we are put in this situation.
Here are some tips from Ready.gov that can help you prepare and stay safe in the event of a wildfire.
Make a Wildfire Plan:
- Know your wildfire risk.
- Familiarize yourself with local emergency plans. Know where to go and how to get there should you need to evacuate.
- Make a wildfire emergency plan including an evacuation plan and a communication plan.
- Many communities have text or email alerting systems for emergency notifications. To find out what alerts are available in your area, search the Internet with your town, city, or county name and the word “alerts.”
- Build or restock your emergency preparedness kit, including a flashlight, batteries, cash, and first aid supplies.
- Stay tuned to your phone alerts, TV, or radio, for weather updates, emergency instructions or evacuation orders.
Prepare Your Home:
- Regularly clean the roof and gutters.
- Connect garden hoses long enough to reach any area of the home.
- Fill garbage cans, tubs, or other large containers with water.
- Review your homeowner’s insurance policy and prepare/update a list of your home’s contents for insurance purposes. For any questions regarding your insurance policy or coverage, speak to one of our agents today at 415-386-2283.
- Create and maintain an area about 30 feet away from your home that is free of anything that will burn (ex. wood piles, dried leaves, brush, newspaper, landscaping, etc.).
- From 30 feet to 100 feet reduce or replace as much of the most flammable vegetation as possible and prune vegetation, create “fuel breaks,” such as driveways, gravel walkways, and lawns. Work with neighbors to create spaces up to 200 feet around your homes where vegetation is thinned to remove underbrush and tall trees do not touch each other for continuous canopies.
Staying Safe During a Wildfire:
- If there is a wildfire in the area, be prepared to evacuate on short notice.
- If you see a wildfire and haven’t received any evacuation orders call 9-1-1. The incident may not have been reported so don’t assume it has.
- If ordered to evacuate during a wildfire, do it immediately. Tell someone where you are going and when you have arrived.
- If you are someone you are with has been burned, call 9-1-1 or seek help immediately. To reduce chance of further injury or infection cool and cover burns.
After a Wildfire:
- Do not return home until authorities say it is safe.
- Once you return home, be on “fire watch”. Make sure you constantly check for smoke, sparks or hidden embers throughout the house (including the roof, attic and basement).
- Be extremely careful when entering burned areas as hazard may still exist. There may be hot spots which can flare up anytime without warning.
- If you smell smoke evacuate your home immediately.
- Wear a dust mask and wet debris down to minimize breathing dust particles. The air quality can remain critical for days after a fire.
- Discard any food that has been exposed to heat, smoke, or soot.
- Do not use any water that may be contaminated to wash dishes, brush teeth, prepare food, wash hands or shower, make ice, or make baby formula.
- Photograph all damages to your property for insurance purposes.
All Images from Google