Surviving a wildfire is not easy or for the faint hearted. But it can be done. So far I have never faced a fire I couldn’t handle. There is one reason for that. I prepare. For everything.
Start with the Basics
Everyone should have smoke detectors and fire extinguishers. If you live where wildfires are a high risk, invest in the best smoke detectorson the market. Your family’s safety is worth the extra change. I got fire extinguishers for almost every room of my house. Teach everyone how to use the fire extinguishers. Have a fire plan ready and conduct regular drills.
Assess Your Property
Homes in wildfire high risk areas often have some things in common. These homes are surrounded with wind/fire breaks. This is achieved with high fire retardant fencing or a break line of trees. Trees need to be spaced 10 feet apart, and pruned regularly with no branches lower than 6’ from the ground. This won’t stop the fire. What it will do is give you a chance to get everyone to safety. Make sure that all flammable items are properly stored. Walk around your home looking for potential hazards. Gas from the mower left lying around is an obvious danger, but look for other things such as kindling for fires stacked against the house. Keep those things along the fire break you have on the perimeter of the property or at least 25 feet away from your home.
Pack Your Bug Out Bags
Prep bug out bags for each of your family members. I cannot stress the importance of these bags for every emergency/survival situation you find yourself in. If you live in an area prone to wildfires, stuff a wool blanket in each bag. They are somewhat flame retardant and will offer a layer of protection. Pack bandanas as they help protect your face. Make sure all family members have whistles, because things can get bad quickly; with the fire crackling and the smoke reducing visibility to zero, finding your kids or other family members is easier if everyone has a whistle.
If no evacuation order has been issued, stay in your house. It is safer than being in a vehicle or out in the open. Go to the room that is furthest away from smoke and fire and has the least number of windows. The issue with windows is that they transfer heat in. Make sure you have wool blankets, bandanas, long clothing and boots, water and fire extinguishers in the room. If at any time you begin to feel unsafe, call the fire department and get yourself and the family extracted from the property. You will be tempted to put out fires from the embers that fall onto the property. If you try this, you better know what you are doing. Things can go south in a hurry. Using water to put out small fires seems like a simple thing you can do to combat the fire, but this can be one of the most dangerous things to do because you are putting yourself out in the open; a simple change in wind direction can have you running around the yard with your shirt on fire.
If you have to leave the house due to it filling with smoke, put on clothing that offers full coverage and boots, wrap yourself in a dry blanket (wet blanket will conduct heat better and will make burns more severe), put a bandana around your face leaving your eyes uncovered and crawl out of the dwelling. Your most important task (besides keeping everyone else safe) is to keep your airway protected. Internal burns are incredibly painful, dangerous and slow to heal.
If you are asked to evacuate, do it. When you leave, turn off the electric breaker and any gas. Be sure to leave the water main on for firefighters. Grab your 72 hour bags, financial records, computer hard drives, and your pets.
- Place garden tools near outside faucets for fire fighters.
- Don’t roll your windows down. Embers from the fire can enter through the slightest crack.
- Continually re-evaluate your route. Watch for changes in the direction of smoke or fire.
Have you ordered your smoke detectors and fire extinguishers yet?
To your survival,