Education

How Prepared are YOU for: A Fire

Much of the western U.S. is covered in smoke and ash as the 2020 wildfire season rages on.

Fire seasons like this one burn hundreds and even thousands of wilderness acres and char countless homes year after year—a warning that our preparedness needs to keep up. 

Whether you live in a part of the country frequently hit by wildfires or in an area that rarely has to worry, having a basic knowledge of what to do when the sky turns orange with smoke could make all the difference. Wildfires are extremely dangerous and occur without warning, often caused by human negligence or natural events such as lightning.  

You’ve probably seen news footage over the years of the scorched aftermath and devastation fires can leave behind. Here in 2020, you’ve probably also seen just how intense something like smoke clouds can be for areas surrounding active fire zones through the intensely red and orange photographs circulating the internet of the West Coast.  

If you’ve personally lived through a wildfire, then you know as well as we do how critical it is to be readyTeam Rubicon has been helping people in the immediate aftermath of disaster since 2010, and we’ve seen firsthand what can happen to those who are not prepared, and even seen what can happen to those who are.  

For us, disaster preparedness and mitigation is year-round practice, and with September being National Preparedness Month, we want to share some quick tips to help you and your family be better prepared when it comes to the threat of fire. 

Disaster preparedness checklist for fires: 

  • Download or sign up for local emergency alerts.

     You can receive free alerts through apps, email, or text messages from your local and state emergency officials.  
  • Plan ahead with your neighbors.

     Ensure everyone in your neighborhood knows of the evacuation route options before a fire starts near your community.  
  • Assess the brush line and other flammable materials around your home.

     Consider creating a fire-resistant buffer zone 30 feet away from your home’s exterior walls, if possible. 
  • Have a water source and hose outside.

    It should be long enough to reach all sides of your home. But, do NOT attempt to stay and fight a fire yourself.  
  • Designate a room in your home that can be best closed off from outside air.

     If living in an area downwind of a smoke and ash cloud, plan to have all windows and doors closed. Indoor air purifiers can help when air quality levels are poor due to smoke.  
  • Keep important documents in a portable fireproof safe.

     Portable is the name of the game, because when every minute counts, you want to be able to quickly grab and go.  

Steps to follow when the danger is close: 

  • Pay close attention to evacuation warnings and orders.

    If the order to evacuate is given evacuate. Do NOT play the waiting game. It may appear distant at one point, but wildfires are unpredictable and can spread incredibly fast if winds shift in your directionoften instantly blocking a main road you planned to use to get to safety.   
  • Park your vehicle(s) headed out towards your primary evacuation route.

    Be ready to go immediately by parking in the driveway with your headlights facing the street. Disconnect automatic garage door openers in case of a power outage if you prefer to load up your car inside the garage 
  • Include your pets in the emergency plan.

     Make sure they have collars and identifying tags with your contact information. Phone numbers and addresses or listing temporary shelter address are recommended moves. It’s also good planning to have a pet carrier ready for smaller pets in case you need to evacuate. 
  • Close all doors and windows.

    This slows hazardous smoke from entering your home, but keep them closed if you’re forced to evacuate, as well. 
  • Leave your drapes open.

    Emergency personnel may need to look inside homes to check if anyone is inside if a fire’s getting too close. You should also leave your lights on. 
  • Move furniture away from walls.

    Moving furniture to the center of a room could slow the fire’s spread if it were to reach your home and give firefighters more time to put it out. 
  • Check on neighbors.

    Just because you received the evacuation order doesn’t mean your neighbors understood it and are also aware. Especially if you have elderly neighbors, check to see if they need assistance getting on the road and away from danger. 

 

We’re knocking on wood that your disaster preparedness never gets put to the test… but being prepared doesn’t stop here.  

Learn about how to prepare for floods, sever wind events (tornadoes, tropical storms, hurricanes), earthquakes and other disasters here.  

Bookmark this page and help us spread the habit of preparedness by sharing these tips across your social channels.

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