The damage caused by wildfires worsens every year as droughts become more common and communities pop up near or within wildland areas. In fact, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) states that more than 58,000 wildfires burned across the US in 2018, destroying over 25,000 structures, including 18,000 homes. California was the hardest-hit state last year, but wildfires occur coast to coast.
May 5 was Wildfire Preparation Day. Follow these tips from the NFPA to keep your home and family safe before, during and after a wildfire.
Prepare Before a Wildfire
During wildfire season, help slow the spread of flames by making these preparations:
- Clear leaves, dead plants and other debris from your property. Screen-in areas below your house to prevent the accumulation of combustible materials.
- Store propane and gas tanks and stacks of firewood at least 30 feet from your house.
- Build, renovate and make repairs using fire-resistant materials.
Also, create an emergency plan to keep you and your family safe. Here are the basics:
- Set up a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio to receive emergency alerts in your area.
- Learn your community’s evacuation plan and map several routes out of town.
- Gather supplies for a 72-hour kit and keep it in a spot where it’s easy to grab and go.
- Create a plan to have pets and livestock taken care of.
Stay Safe During a Wildfire
- Listen to your NOAA Weather Radio so you know when you evacuate.
- If authorities issue a mandatory evacuation, leave immediately. If you’re trapped, call 911.
- Wear an N95 mask to filter out harmful particles as you breathe.
- When smoky conditions exist, but you’re not instructed to evacuate yet, seal off one room in your home from the outside. Close all exterior windows and doors and set up a portable air cleaner to minimize indoor air pollution levels.
- Close all windows, doors and vents to help prevent flying embers from penetrating your home.
- Fill large containers with water from a garden hose and place them around your property. Suitable vessels include swimming pools, hot tubs and garbage cans. Containers of water can create a barrier around your house and give firefighters access to water that can help their cause.
Remain Cautious After a Wildfire
- Continue listening to news updates to stay informed about the fire’s status.
- Only return home when the authorities give their permission. When you do, be aware that the ground may have hot spots that could burn you or reignite the fire.
- Document the damage for insurance purposes before you begin cleaning up.
- Call a disaster recovery company to help you get back on your feet.
DKI Services can help you recover from fire damage by performing smoke and odor removal, deodorization, structural cleaning and repair, contents restoration, and more. Contact us today to learn more about our services or to request our help.