Summer is still a few months away but that doesn’t mean we should take wildfires lightly. If there’s a lesson learned from the wildfires that struck the United States last year, it’s that we need to be prepared for such a disaster.
Protect Your Home from A Wildfire
One of the most bitter and hurtful things one could experience is watching your home burn down to the ground. You worked hard building or paying for your dream house to be built and then this wildfire just decides it likes your house too much so it swallows it whole. What a douche.
Clean Your Yard
Protect your home from turning into ash by making it fireproof. The first step is to take a good look at your property. Do you have a wide enough area between the woods and your house? If a wildfire burns about a hundred feet away, your home will likely be safe. But don’t rest on your laurels just yet. You need to make sure the fire will not crawl towards your property.
Clear your yard of any flammable materials. Start with the dried leaves, grass and branches. Make it a habit to clean up so the risk of being caught in a wildfire is greatly decreased.
Next, look at your immediate vicinity. Be wary of things that could catch fire. Remember, flying embers are the main culprit of burning homes. They’re also responsible for numerous wildfires breaking out in the same area. Even one ember can start a fire. All it needs is to land on something flammable.
Do you spot a pile of firewood? Put them someplace else safe room flying embers. Is there a broom lying around? Pick it up and hide it. A pile of old newspapers and magazines? You know what to do.
Keep Wooden Structure and Furniture Fire-proof
Wood is flammable. So are cushions. If you have wooden furniture with cushions, you may want to consider replacing them if you are in a wildfire-prone area. Otherwise, you just need to be vigilant. Once news of a wildfire breaks out, bring everything inside your home or somewhere safe from the fire.
As for wooden decks, you can’t take it inside when fire breaks out. What you can do is clear it of any flammable materials.
Check the Gutters
Another thing to look at is the house itself. Get up the roof and check the gutters. You’ll likely find dried leaves stuck there. Get rid of them.
Cover the Vents
Flying embers can enter your house through vents. Make sure to seal them off with a fine mesh screen. Remove anything flammable near your vents. If an ember manages to enter through the vent, it may come in contact with paper, cloth or anything that burns easy.
When You’re Caught Near A Raging Inferno
If you’re caught outside during a wildfire, you must act fast. Survey your surroundings and see if there’s a nearby body of water. If there is, head there immediately. If there’s no water nearby, go to the clearest area you can find. Avoid tall trees, grass and dry leaves.
Dig a trench around you. Clear your surroundings of dried leaves then dig as deep and as fast as you can. This will prevent the fire from going near you.
You can also look for a rock formation or a group of huge rocks where you can take cover from the fire. Stay as close to the ground as possible.
Cover yourself with anything you can find that can protect you from flying embers or jumping flames. Ideally, you should have a Mylar blanket or a wool blanket soaked in water.
When You Can’t Evacuate
The first thing you should think of in the event of a wildfire is the safety of your family. Evacuate your home if necessary. Don’t wait for the fire to get too close before deciding to leave. Keep tabs on the news and watch out for any orders. Once the local authorities tell you to evacuate, do so immediately.
If evacuation is no longer an option, there’s still a chance you’ll make it out alive. First, you need to stay calm. Don’t strike worry on your family by panicking.
Whether you’re evacuating or not, you should do some last-minute fireproofing. First, call the authorities and tell them your location and situation. Remove all flammable items such as curtains and window shades. Move furniture away from the doors and windows. Seal off ground vents and the attic with plywood.
Fill the tub, sinks, pails, and other containers with water. You’ll need as much water as you can collect. Place the buckets of water around the house. Attach the hose to the water valves outside and hose down your yard and house. Leave the hose attached so the rescuers can use to fight the fire while trying to get to you.
Turn off the gas, propane tanks, and air conditioning. Turn all the lights on, especially those outside. Lights left on means someone inside the house needs rescuing. Leave a ladder outside your home so the firefighters can use them to get up the roof.
After dealing with the last-minute fireproofing outside your home, get inside and close all doors and windows. Don’t lock them. Rescuers will have a harder time getting to you if your doors are locked.
Stay away from the walls, doors and windows at all times. When the fire gets too close for comfort, gather in the middle of the house, lie down on the floor, and cover yourself with soaked wool blankets and thermal blankets.
Keep your emergency kits, first aid kit, and other supplies near you. Place important documents and other valuables in a fireproof container. Take all the fire extinguishers with you, as well.
Survive A Wildfire While Driving
You’ve probably seen films where the main character is driving his or her car through a burning forest or something like that. In these movies, the protagonist make it out alive and with barely a scratch save for a dab of charcoal on the face. In real life, it’s a lot more dangerous to be caught in a wildfire while in a vehicle.
You must always stay calm. Look around for an area that is free of vegetation. Once you see one, stop there. Close the windows and cover all other openings. This is to prevent smoke from entering your car.
Protect yourself from the heat by covering yourself with a thermal or wool blanket before lying down on the floor of your car. A jacket will do if you don’t have these survival gears.
Call for help. Dial 911 and then your loved ones. Tell them here you are so they’ll know where to look. The operator will also guide you on what to do so you better listen well. If you have a bottle of water, soak any piece of clothing and cover your face with it.
If you happen to know other tips on surviving a wildfire, I’m pretty sure our reader would appreciate them. Please go ahead and share with us. For now, I leave you with a prayer that you’ll always remain safe. Visit The Gentleman Pirate to know more survival tips on our What Would I Do If weekly series.
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