We’ve all been taught to not play with fire. That’s why it’s normal to feel the need to prevent it — by keeping a fire extinguisher in the kitchen, burning only dry wood in the fireplace, regularly checking for faulty wiring, and so on. However, a fire on a colossal scale is naturally frightening for many because wildfires can spread at a rapid scale — and it can potentially reach our homes. If (and when) it happens, it’s imperative that you know what to do in a wildfire.
Here are ways you can protect your loved ones from a wildfire.
Why Do We Deal With Wildfires?
Wildfires can be caused by natural phenomena (like lightning and extremely dry and hot weather conditions). But it can also be man-made. Such as some people’s disregard for safety — like carelessly leaving campfires unattended and throwing away cigarettes in the open field. In fact, according to the Wildland Fire Management Information (WFMI) and U.S. Forest Service Research Data Archive, almost 85% of wildfires are caused by humans.
Climate change is also another factor as to why we experience wildfires — even more so now (especially in the western side of the USA). The dry air and warmer temperature make us more at risk of dealing with this calamity. In a UC Davis article, it’s said that California is the most wildfire-prone state in the US. They also added that in 2020, the occurrences of wildfires more than doubled compared to the years prior.
What to Do in a Wildfire:
We can minimize the prevalence of wildfires but the fact is, it’s a natural calamity. Thus, besides doing our part by eliminating the man-made causes of it, we should all be aware of how to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe.
Preparing for the Worst
Summer is the most common season when wildfires occur. But even if it’s not summer, you should still tune in to the radio or your local news station to be updated if there’s a wildfire near your town or your home. If there is one, make sure you already stocked up on some food and you have your emergency and survival kit prepared.
Your emergency kit should include:
- Battery-powered radio
- Trauma kit
You should also stock ready-to-eat, high-energy, high-protein, and dried foods. Make sure to have an ample amount of water prepared for you and your family; ideally, 3 gallons per person. If you have pets, don’t forget about them and their needs — have a survival kit and food ready for them as well.
Prepare your important documents and seal them in a fireproof and waterproof envelope or container. If you have time and space to include sentimental objects like photographs, you can add them — but be prepared also to get rid of them if you have to evacuate hastily.
Be prepared for power outages and stay indoors — no matter how hot it is inside your home! Chances are, it’s worse outside and you’re putting your life in jeopardy if you go outside.
Surviving a Wildfire
If a wildfire is approaching your area, alert the authorities immediately. Close all windows and doors but make sure they’re not locked so the rescuers can easily access your home. Move all your furniture away from the windows and doors — especially curtains and blinds (these are highly flammable and you don’t want them to be the cause of the fire entering your home).
Turn on the TV and listen intently for information. Keep all the lights turned on so you can see if there’s smoke inside your home. If the authorities tell you to evacuate, do so immediately.
Rebuilding Life After a Wildfire
It’s natural to want to check your house after a wildfire. But it’s important that you wait for the fire officials to give you the go signal to return home. However, just because you can, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be worried and wary anymore.
Before you open the door of your home, be cautious of the flare-ups that might occur — the built-up gas may reignite the fire. And upon entering, check if there are hot spots and remaining embers. If there are, call the authorities and inform them so they can take care of it.
Wildfires have become increasingly more common in the past few years. While almost all of it is man-made, wildfires cannot be 100% prevented. That’s why you should be prepared and know what to do in a wildfire — prepare yourself, your emergency kit, your evacuation plan, and your survival instincts.
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