Each year, catastrophic wildfires continue to increase in California. This year alone there are 7,012 fire incidents; 1,514,687 estimated acres of forest have burned including wildlife; 5 fatalities; and 1,509 structures damaged and destroyed by fire in the state. The question now is, what are the necessary steps to Keeping your Home and Family Safe during Wildfires?
Thousands of lives will be saved if proper preparation is followed. Plan, prepare, and stay aware! Property owners and residents in areas most at risk are encouraged to take the steps advised by CAL FIRE “Ready, Set, Go!” here are the necessary steps in keeping your home and family safe during wildfires:
Create and maintain defensible space and harden your home against flying embers. Defensible space is the buffer you create by removing dry and dead plants, grass, and weeds. These are flammable and can easily catch fire. By creating a buffer you are protecting your home. To harden your home means to use construction materials that are fire-resistant. This will greatly help your home to withstand flying embers. It takes the combination of these two steps to give your house the best chance of surviving a wildfire.
Prepare your family and home ahead of time for the possibility of having to evacuate. Ensure you have a plan of what to take and where to go. Getting set requires three main preparation actions that should be completed. The whole family should be familiar with these action plans.
3 Steps to Getting Set:
Create a Wildfire Action Plan – Ensure that your plan includes matters concerning COVID-19. If you are to evacuate and plan to stay with friends and other relatives outside of your area, ask first if they have symptoms of COVID-19 or have people in their homes that are at higher risk for serious illness. Create contingency plans should this be the case. Check with hotels, motels, and camping sites if they are open.
Assemble an Emergency Supply Kit for each person in your household – Put together your emergency supply kit long before a wildfire or other disaster occurs and keep it easily accessible so you can take it with you when you have to evacuate. Plan to be away from your home for an extended period of time. Each person should have a readily accessible emergency supply kit. Backpacks work great for storing these items (except food and water) and are quick to grab. Storing food and water in a tub or chest on wheels will make it easier to transport. Keep it light enough to be able to lift it into your car. Ensure you plan with COVID-19 in mind. Here are some necessary items you may pack in case you need to evacuate:
3. Fill-out a family communication plan – In times of disaster, it is important to create a solid communication plan with your family, for this will determine the life survivability and safety of your whole household. Evacuation plans for families with children and seniors and disabled members can be difficult. Parents must always keep in mind that they need to help toddlers understand how to quickly respond in case of fire. It is important to talk to toddlers and small children at a level that they can understand and that will not cause panic or fear.
CAL FIRE provided resources that offer guides and tips for families with young children about fire and preparing for other disasters and keeping your home and family safe during wildfires:
Be ready to “GO!”
Give your household the best chance of surviving a wildfire by being ready to go and evacuating early. Being ready to go also means knowing when to evacuate and what to do if you become trapped. Make sure to check with your local public service announcements on what are the necessary steps in keeping your home and family safe during wildfires.