What To Do In Case of a Wildfire - A Wildfire Evacuation Checklist
Now that the hot days and fire season are upon us, we at Five Star Restoration want you and your family to be safe and prepared should a catastrophe strike with this wildfire evacuation checklist.
California has been in a drought for the last two years. This has resulted in depletion of moisture in the soil, making vegetation very dry and prone to combustion. Ironically, efficient fire suppression has added to the risk of wildfires.
Naturally occurring, low intensity fires were nature’s way of clearing underbrush in forests and even trigger release of seeds in plant species, including the Jack pine. However, suppression of these fires has led to build up of underbrush and other materials.
This accumulation of plants in many areas has aided high intensity wildfires to burn more intensely and in more prolonged periods. And with the state bracing for another devastating fire season, the level of concern is very high.
While there is very little that can be done when a wildfire hits, you can certainly take crucial steps to help you and your family avoid being put at greater risk than necessary. If you live in an area that is vulnerable to wildfires, preparation is key.
Tip No. 1: Build a Fire Ready House
While this is not exactly a wildfire evacuation tip, it certainly helps to prepare your home if you live in a location or plan to live in a location prone to wildfires.
Roofing and Walls. Consider using roofing and wall materials that will not catch fire readily. Asphalt shingles, tile, slate or even metal roofing are recommended. As added protection, you can install fireproof underlayment and insulation filling.
Make sure your gutters are free from combustible materials.
For walls, avoid using shingles, panels or boards used for siding materials. Stucco, fiber cement, wall siding, fire retardant and treated wood or aluminum siding that look like wood are preferable.
Windows. Radiant heat from wildfires can cause your windows to break. This makes your home more vulnerable to embers that can ignite your home when they get inside. Here are our tips:
If budget permits, install tempered glass which can withstand temperature up to
Consider double paned windows with one pane of tempered glass if doing all tempered glass is not possible.
Aluminum, steel or fiberglass window frames are more apt for homes in wildfire prone areas.
Yard. Set up an area in your home’s perimeter against fire. This should be defensible - with no combustible materials (dead trees or shrubs, dried leaf litter, pine needles or fallen twigs or branches).
If you have a work or storage shed, make sure nothing flammable, including propane, is stored within. Have a fire extinguisher ready at all times to help put out small fires that may occur near your home.
And of course, if you have the ability, remodel to make your home fire resistant.
Tip No. 2: Insure Your Home With A Wildfire Preparedness Insurance
If you live in a wildfire vulnerable area, the most important item on your wildfire evacuation checklist should be residential insurance. Make sure that your home insurance not only covers disasters but also helps with fire damage restoration.
Having your home or business insured helps you recover relatively easier from fire or any kind of disaster.
Tip No. 3: Create an Evacuation Plan
An evacuation plan can spell the difference between getting your whole family out safely and having to deal with a tragedy. Therefore, careful thought should be put into it.
More importantly, it should be discussed with your family members ahead of time to minimize panic during an actual emergency. Hold a family fire drill. You may think this is not necessary, but doing so can make a difference during a really emergency.
Cleaning Up After a Grease Fire
Communication plan. In an ideal situation, your family is able to stay together during an emergency. However, this will not always be the case.
Therefore, it’s important to determine a way to communicate with one another should you get separated during a fire.
We suggest designating a relative or friend who lives out of the area as a point of contact. This person will act as the single source of communication in case of separation.
In an emergency situation, it’s easier to contact just one person so they can contact others, rather than trying to contact everyone when communication lines may be limited during a disaster.
Emergency meeting area. Ideally, your emergency plan should include different meeting areas depending on the nature of the wildfire. We recommend having one location that is nearby, if the scope of fire is not extensive.
Then, we suggest you also have one in a nearby city or a location you’re sure to be fire-proof and one near a landmark for easy detection.
Escape routes. Not only do you have to give careful consideration to meeting areas, also think of safe escape routes from your home and community.
These need to be discussed with everyone in your family and practiced often so they become familiar with the designated routes.
Consider pets and large animals. You need to also devise a plan to move pets and large animals (horses and other livestock) to safety during an emergency.
Tip No. 4: Prepare An Emergency Supply Kit for Each Person
When there’s an emergency situation, it’s difficult to gather materials as you prepare to evacuate under time pressure. It’s best to assemble an emergency supply kit always on the ready so you can easily take it with you when you need to leave in a hurry.
Plan for at least three days worth of movement or evacuation.
To make it handy, every person in your home should have an easily accessible emergency supply kit. We recommend using a backpack or duffle bag for storing these items. You can use a cooler chest or tub on wheels to store food and water.
This will make it easier to transport and lift onto your car.
While the contents of your emergency supply kit will vary depending on your and your family’s needs, here are the things that it should include:
⬜ 3 day supply of non-perishable food
⬜ 3 gallons of water per person
⬜ Medications or prescriptions
⬜ Change of clothing and undergarments
⬜ First aid kit
⬜ Hygiene items and toiletries
⬜ Copies of important documents (birth certificates, passports, etc)
⬜ Extra glasses or contact lenses
⬜ Extra set of car keys
⬜ Credit card, cash or traveller’s checks
⬜ Face masks or coverings
⬜ Map marked with your planned evacuation routes
⬜ Tent or tarp
⬜ Fire making tools
⬜Emergency gear or tools
⬜ Chargers for cell phones, laptops, etc
⬜ Battery powered radio and extra batteries
⬜ Food and water for pets
Tip No. 5: Prepare Your Vehicle For Disaster
Your vehicle can quickly get you out of danger and on to safety. But it will totally be useless if it conks out right when you badly need it. Therefore, you need to maintain it so it is ready to go at all times.
We recommend keeping extra emergency supply kits in your car so you’re always prepared to evacuate when needed. You can also add non-perishables, as well as shelter materials and containers of potable water.
Ensure that you have at least half a tankful of fuel in your car. This is enough to allow you to drive more than 100 km away from the wildfire and safely get away and return when the time comes.
Tip No. 6: Keep Your Ear to the Ground
When there's a threat of wildfire, it’s important to listen to warnings and alerts. Here are several ways you can receive alerts:
✔ Download the FEMA app to receive real-time alerts from the National Weather Service for up to 5 locations all over the US
✔ Sign up for community alerts for your particular area
✔ Check out the Emergency Alert System and Wireless Emergency Alert. Both of these do not require sign-ups
✔ Pay attention to Air Quality Alerts
Some people are reluctant to leave their homes even in the face of imminent danger. Your first priority should always be to ensure that you and your family stay safe. Therefore, it’s important to listen to emergency officials.
Leave your home immediately when they give orders to evacuate.
Aside from listening to alerts, you can also do your part in preventing a fire from escalating into a wildfire by calling 911 to report it.
Tip No. 7: Take Steps to Assist Firefighters and Minimize Damage To Your Home
This tip only applies when you’re not in immediate danger. Here are the steps you can take to help firefighters and lessen the damage to your home:
Shut off the gas. Turn off the propane at the tank, or if you’re using natural gas, at the meter.
Even before any emergency, it’s important to make sure that every member of your household knows where your gas, electric, and water main shut-off valves are located, so they know how to shut them down safely when needed.
Make your home easier to spot for emergency responders. Turning on the light in each room and exterior lights increases your home’s visibility in heavy smoke.
Hose down your space. Wet down the roof and shrubs within 15 feet of your home. This makes it harder for embers to ignite anything around your home.
You can use lawn sprinklers on the roof, as well as near above-ground fuel tanks. However, make sure to turn off the water once you have hosed down everything as this can affect the water pressure.
Allow easy access to your property for firefighters by leaving your gate open. Help them by connecting hoses to outside taps or fill buckets with water and place them around the house.
Embers getting into your home, no matter how small, can start a fire within. Check your roof and attic for any embers or signs of smoke or fire.
Ready your emergency supply kits so you can easily grab them, in case you need to evacuate.
In a wildfire situation, your safety and that of your family should be your first priority. When the threat is real, your best recourse is to evacuate to safety. Hopefully, our wildfire evacuation checklist helps you prepare yourself better for the fire season.
We Can Help
If your home has experienced fire and smoke damage, Five Star Restoration can help. When you call us, we respond quickly so we can address the damage immediately.
We offer fast fire, smoke and water damage help with affordable, stress free repair and restoration. We also work quickly to prevent mold from getting into your home.
We make it stress free for you by giving invaluable assistance during the insurance claim filing process. We work directly with the assigned adjuster so the process is as painless as possible for you.
Call us today at 951.368.2227.
We have technicians on standby and ready to answer your call 24/7.
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