If your property is under threat of a wildfire, there are steps you need to take to prepare. Guidelines provided here are adapted from guidelines prepared by the Federal Emergency Management Administration, the National Fire Protection Association, National Interagency Fire Center and others.
The guidelines below are organized under the three “pillars” identified by FEMA – Evacuate, Defensible Space and Risk Management.
- Know when a fire is threatening
- ready.gov/prepare provides a summary of alerts and warning you can monitor
- The national weather service issues fire warnings or red flags when fire danger and weather patterns exist that increase the threat
- Your community may also participate in the National Fire Danger Rating System to provide a daily estimate of fire danger. To learn more, visit http://www.wfas.net/index.php/fire-danger-rating-fire-potential--danger-32\
- Consider having a NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards receiver
- If a wildfire threatens your property, focus first on protecting yourself and your family
- Evacuate early to avoid being trapped
- If there is smoke, drive carefully, keep your headlights on and watch for other vehicles and fleeing animal
- Know your communities evacuation plan and identify several escape routes
- Keep the car fueled, in good condition and have emergency supplies and a change of clothes in your car
- Prepare for being away for an extended period of time if necessary. Identify a place where you can go. Consider family or friends who live outside the threatened area.
There are some things you can do today to reduce the risk of fire to your property. (Source: Firewise USA – Residents Reducing Wildfire Risks)
- Clean roof surfaces and gutters of pine needs, leaves, branches, etc., regularly to avoid accumulation of flammable materials
- Remove portions of any tree extending within 10 feet of the flue opening of any stove or chimney
- Maintain a screen constructed of non-flammable material over the flue opening of every chimney or stovepipe. Mesh openings of the screen should not exceed 1/2 inch
- Landscape vegetation should be spaced so that fire can not be carried to the structure or surrounding vegetation
- Remove branches from trees to a height of 15 feet
- A fuel break should be maintained around all structures
- Dispose of stove or fireplace ashes and charcoal briquettes only after soaking them in a metal pail of water
- Store gasoline in an approved safety can away from occupied buildings
- Propane tanks should be far enough away from buildings for valves to be shut off in case of fire. Keep area clear of flammable vegetation.
- All combustibles such as firewood, picnic tables, boats, etc. should be kept away from structures
- Garden hose should be connected to an outlet
- Addressing should be indicated at all intersections and on structures
- All roads and driveways should be at least 16 feet in width.
- Have fire tools handy such as a ladder long enough to reach the roof, shovel, rake and bucket for water.
- Each home should have at least two different entrance and exit routes.
Make sure you have adequate insurance coverage for your property and personal belongings. If you have not done so, check with Pharmacists Mutual. We recommend videotaping or photographing contents of your property and keeping them in a remote location.
For additional information:
http://firewise.org/ - Firewise – NFPA Residents Reducing Wildfire Risks – toolkits and checklists for prevention and response
https://www.nifc.gov/ - National Interagency Fire Center – For detailed information about fire threats
http://www.wildfirecommunityresources.com/ - Wildfire Community Resources provides awareness and preparation resources for landowners, homeowners, and communities
https://www.ready.gov/wildfires - FEMA emergency guidelines. Includes How to Prepare for a Wildfire explains how to protect yourself and your property, and details the steps to take now so that you can act quickly when you, your home, or your business is in danger.