How to Prepare for Wildland Fires

Homefront Emergency Wildland Fire Preparedness

Wildfires can occur anywhere and can destroy homes, businesses, infrastructure, natural resources, and agriculture. We hope the information provided by Homefront Emergency helps you Prepare for a Wildfire Season, and how to protect yourself, your family and your property, and steps to take now so that you can act quickly when you, your home, or your business is in danger.

WHAT: A wildfire is an unplanned, unwanted fire burning in a natural area, such as a forest, grassland, or prairie. As building development expands into these areas, homes and business may be situated in or near areas susceptible to wildfires. This is called the wildland urban interface. Wildfires can damage natural resources, destroy homes, and threaten the safety of the public and the firefighters who protect forests and communities.

WHEN: Wildfires can occur at any time throughout the year, but the potential is always higher during periods with little or no rainfall, which make brush, grass, and trees dry and burn more easily. High winds can also contribute to spreading the fire. Your community may have a designated wildfire season when the risk is particularly high.

WHERE: Wildfires can occur anywhere in the country. They can start in remote wilderness areas, in national parks, or even in your backyard. Wildfires can start from natural causes, such as lightning, but most are caused by humans, either accidentally—from cigarettes, campfires, or outdoor burning—or intentionally.

IMPACT: Federal suppression costs typically range from $1 billion to nearly $2 billion each year.1 The destruction caused by wildfires depends on the size of the fire, the landscape, the amount of fuel—such as trees and structures—in the path of the fire, and the direction and intensity of the wind.

  • Wildfires can cause death or injury to people and animals.
  • Structures may be damaged or destroyed.
  • Transportation, gas, power, communications, and other services may be disrupted.
  • Flying embers can set fire to buildings more than a mile away from the wildfire itself.
  • Smoke can cause health issues for people, even for those far away from the fire.
  • Extensive acreage can be burned, damaging watersheds and critical natural areas.
  • Flash flooding and mudslides can result from fire damage to the surrounding landscape


PERSONAL PROTECTION
SURVIVAL SUPPLIESThis kit should be very mobile as a “BUG –OUT “ kit. As with any emergency it is important to have a family survival kit . Complete with flashlights, drinking water, non-perishable food, first-aid kit, radios, flashlights, all with fresh batteries. You should also have at least 5 disposable respirator masks for each member of your family,(smoke from wildland fires can cause respiratory issues). Bandannas also work very well. Also have clear safety glasses, (ash falling easily gets into eyes).Remember to include change of clothes, walking shoes and required prescriptions.

PETS AND LARGE ANNIMALS Never leave your pest behind. Be sure you have plenty of pet food and supplies. Larger like grazing animals horses, cows etc. be smart evacuate these animals early on to safer locations. Communicate with neighbors, friends and relatives. Have a PLAN in place before the need arises. Those who prepare early in advance of the emergency will likely find it easier to deal with.

EVACUATE When a wildfire threatens your area, the best action to protect yourself and your family is to evacuate early to avoid being trapped. If there is smoke, drive carefully because visibility may be reduced. Keep your headlights on and watch for other vehicles and fleeing wildlife or livestock.

DEFENSIBLE SPACE AND FIRE-RESISTANT MATERIALS Your goal now, before a fire happens, is to make your home or business and the surrounding area more resistant to catching fire and burning. This means reducing the amount of material that can burn easily in and around your home or business by clearing away debris and other flammable materials, and using fire-resistant materials for landscaping and construction.

INSURANCE Review your homeowners or renters insurance policy to ensure that you have adequate coverage for your property and personal belongings

DURING A WILDLAND FIREIf you see a fire nearby or approaching, call 911 to report the fire. Do not assume that someone else has reported it. If the danger is significant, local authorities may issue an evacuation notice to alert residents that a fire is nearby and it is important to leave the area. Evacuation orders vary by state and may range from voluntary to mandatory.

PROTECT YOURSELF DURING A WILDFIRE
If authorities advise or order you to evacuate, do so immediately. Be sure to remember the Five Ps of Evacuation: People, Prescriptions, Papers, Personal Needs, and Priceless Items.

  • --While your safety and your family’s safety are most important, there are things you can do before evacuating that can help firefighters. If there is time before you need to evacuate, do the following:
  • Turn on lights outside and in every room to make the house more visible in heavy smoke.
  • Close all windows, vents, doors, and fireplace screens. This will help reduce drafts in the home and reduce radiant heat.
  • Disconnect automatic garage door openers so doors can be opened by hand if you lose power.
  • Move flammable furniture, including outdoor furniture, into the center of the home away from windows and sliding glass doors. Remove flammable curtains and window treatments.
  • Connect garden hoses. Fill garbage cans, tubs, or other large containers with water. Shut off natural gas from the source, and move propane or fuel oil supplies away from the house.
  • Follow any additional guidance provided by local authorities.
  • --When driving away from a fire: Roll up windows and close air vents because smoke from a fire can irritate your eyes and respiratory system.
  • Drive slowly with your headlights on because smoke can reduce visibility.
  • Watch for other vehicles, pedestrians, and fleeing animals.
  • Avoid driving through heavy smoke, if possible.
  • If you do not leave before the fire reaches your immediate area and you are trapped in your home, take the following actions:
  • Call 911, provide your location, and explain your situation.
  • Turn on the lights to increase the visibility of your home in heavy smoke.
  • Keep doors, windows, vents, and fire screens closed. Keep your doors unlocked.
  • Move flammable materials (e.g., curtains, furniture) away from windows and sliding glass doors.
  • Fill sinks and tubs with water.
  • Stay inside, away from outside walls and windows.


Researchers are examining guidance to provide the best advice for last resort actions if you are trapped in a vehicle or outdoors. If you are in a vehicle, base your decision to stay in the vehicle or to take cover outside on your specific circumstances, including your distance from the fire, the direction of the fire, whether there is fuel (e.g., brush and trees) near your vehicle, and the potential for rescue. Try to stay away from fuel sources; stay in a rocky area or roadway, or near a water source. Stay low to reduce the effects of heat and smoke, breathe through cloth to avoid inhaling smoke, and cover yourself with a wool blanket or coat, or even dirt. If you are trapped by the fire, immediately call 911, if possible, to provide your location and explain your situation.