What to Do If a Wildfire Threatens Your Area 

 May 11, 2016

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Wildfires have devastated Fort McMurray in Canada recently, destroying many homes and businesses and forcing thousands of people to flee. Wildfires can occur anywhere if the weather is hot and dry or if someone does not put out a cigarette or campfire. They can spread quickly and can be highly destructive. If a wildfire is threatening your area, here are some tips on what you should do to protect yourself, your family, and your belongings.

•    Monitor your local news to stay up to date on current weather conditions and fire risks in your area. If a wildfire is currently burning in your area, sign up to get alerts from your local government and news stations so you will always have the most recent information.

•    If you see a wildfire but you have not been notified about it by a government agency or news station, call 911. Do not assume that someone else has already reported it.

•    Talk about the risks with your family and come up with a plan. Choose a location outside your neighborhood where you can go if you need to evacuate your home. Make arrangements with family or friends so you will have a place to stay. Make an evacuation plan and identify two ways out of your neighborhood that you can use if the primary route is blocked.

•    If a wildfire is approaching your area, you may need to leave quickly. Pack clothing and other essentials you will need so you can leave at a moment’s notice. Take important documents with you or put them in a fireproof safe. Keep your pets in one room or area so you can find them quickly if you need to evacuate. Back your car into the garage or park it in an open area so you can leave as quickly as possible.

•    If you have firewood at your home or campsite, put it at least 30 feet away uphill. Remove any flammable materials from an area 20 feet around the firewood.

•    Close your windows and doors to keep smoke out of your home. Use the recycle or recirculate setting on your air conditioner. If there is a lot of smoke in the area, do not use anything that can add to indoor air pollution, such as candles, a fireplace, or a gas stove.

•    Close the valves on your natural gas, propane, and heating oil supplies.

•    Place sprinklers on your roof and near your fuel tank and turn them on.

•    Move furniture into the center of the room away from walls and windows so it will be less likely to catch fire.

•    If you go outside, wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt made of cotton, wool, or a fire-retardant fabric and protect your face.


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