Episode 8 – Home and Wildfire Preparedness
- Create and practice a home fire escape
- Plan and practice 2 ways to escape from each room
- Children under 5 are twice as likely as other age groups to die in a house fire
- According to the U.S. Fire Administration: An estimated 300 people are killed and $280 million in property is destroyed each year as a result of children playing with fire
- Purchase fire extinguishers
- Check fire extinguishers annually
- Practice using a fire extinguisher (Aim at the base of the fire)
- Keep matches, lighters and other flammable substances in a secured location
- Child Resistant Lighters
- Flameless Candles
- Install smoke detectors on every level of your home outside of sleeping areas
- Push the annoying test button once a month to test fire alarms
- Replace batteries twice per year (time change)
- Alarm will chirp if the battery is low. Immediately replace for your safety and sanity
- Teach the kids what the fire alarm sounds like, and what to do when you hear one
- Create a designated meet up location outside
- Practice plan at least twice per year at different times of the day
- Practice waking up, crawling and meeting outside
- Teach the kids 9-1-1, simulate what a call will sound like and what information to share
- Emphasize get out/Stay out
- Install quick release devices on bedroom windows and doors (at least one per room)
- Consider installing escape ladders for upper story bedrooms
- Consider installing egress windows for basement escape
- Teach kids stop, drop and roll
If a fire starts
- Grab fire extinguisher if accessible
- Yell “Fire” Several times and go outside right away
- Do not use elevators, use stairs
- Never open doors that are warm to the touch
- If escaping through smoke, get low to get under smoke
- Close doors behind you if possible
- In case you are trapped, stay in room w/ doors closed
- Place a towel (wet if possible) at the base of the door to seal air flow
- Open window and wave brightly colored cloth or flashlight to signal for help
- Establish family communication chain so family members know who to contact if separated
- Get kids room stickers from the fire department
- They also have number of household pets stickers
- Create a bug out bag for each person in their corresponding bedrooms
- Extra set of keys
- Flash light
- N95 mask
- First aid kit
- Extra leashes for pets
- List of insurance company and family/friend’s phone numbers with relevant policy numbers
After the fire
- Do not enter the house until local authorities say it’s safe
- Let friends and family know that you are safe
- An estimated 500,000 pets are affected annually in a house fire
- Include pets in your family plan
- Never delay escape or endanger yourself to save pets
- Before you leave your pets alone, put out open flames
On average, more than 100,000 wildfires, also called wildland fires or forest fires, clear 4 million to 5 million acres (1.6 million to 2 million hectares) of land in the U.S. every year. In recent years, wildfires have burned up to 9 million acres
Every year, wildfires burn across the United States, and a growing number of people are living where wildfires are a real risk. In 2016, a total of 4,312 structures were destroyed by wildfires, including more than 3,000 homes and more than 70 commercial buildings.
Wildfires can occur anywhere in the country. They can start in remote wilderness areas, in national parks, or even in your backyard. Wildfires can start from natural causes, such as lightning, but most are caused by humans, either accidentally— from cigarettes, campfires, or outdoor burning—or intentionally. Federal suppression costs typically range from $1 billion to nearly $2 billion each year.1 The destruction caused by wildfires depends on the size of the fire, the landscape, the amount of fuel—such as trees and structures—in the path of the fire, and the direction and intensity of the wind.
As many as 90 percent of wildland fires in the United States are caused by humans. Human-caused fires result from campfires left unattended, the burning of debris, negligently discarded cigarettes, and intentional acts of arson.
Be certain to completely extinguish cigarettes before disposing of them. Follow local ordinances when burning yard waste. Avoid backyard burning in windy conditions, and keep a shovel, water, and fire retardant nearby to keep fires in check. Remove all flammables from yard when burning.
– Use Class A roof material, such as tile, slate, or asphalt with an underlayment, or Class B pressure-treated shakes and shingles to reduce risk.
– Use wood treated with fire-retardant chemicals. – Ensure that the driveway or other access is wide enough for emergency vehicles to enter, as well as being clear of flammable vegetation.
– Mark the entrance to your property with address signs that are clearly visible from the road.
– Install dual-sensor smoke alarms on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms; test monthly and change the batteries at least once a year.
– Install fire sprinklers.
– Install spark arrestors in chimneys and stovepipes and inspect chimneys at least twice a year.
– Enclose or box in eaves, soffits, decks, and other openings in the structure.
– Use fine wire mesh to cover vents, crawl spaces, and the space underneath porches and decks.
– Install multi-pane windows or tempered safety glass.
– Use fireproof shutters to protect large windows and glass doors from radiant heat
Firewise, a program from the National Fire Protection Association, defines the Home Ignition Zone as an area extending up to 200 feet from a structure. This is the area where the primary goal is limiting the level of flammable vegetation and materials surrounding the home and increasing the moisture content of the remaining vegetation. Think about creating three zones around your house or property, as described below. For more information, see www.firewise.org/.
A minimum 30-foot defensible space surrounding the house that should be well irrigated and fire resistant. Because fire travels quickly on a hill, the steeper the slope, the more open space you will need to protect your home. If you live on a hill, extend the zone on the downhill side. – Clear away all combustible materials—including leaves or needles and other debris—from the roof, gutters, and decks (on top and below), and around the foundation. – Remove vines from the exterior of the house. Move shrubs and other vegetation away from the sides of the house. Prune branches and shrubs within 15 feet of chimneys, stove pipes, or the structure. Avoid using bark and wood chip mulch next to any structure. – Remove tree limbs within 15 feet of the ground. Create a 15-foot space between tree crowns. – Replace highly flammable vegetation, such as pine, eucalyptus, juniper and fir trees with plants that do not burn as readily. Less flammable options include trees with low sap or resin content like many deciduous species, or those that have high moisture content, like succulents and some herbaceous species. For more information on “firewise” landscaping, go to www.firewise.org/wildfire-preparedness/firewiselandscaping-and-plant-lists.aspx. – Replace or prune any plants that could help fire move from the ground into the treetops. – Ask the power company to clear branches from or near power lines. – Store outdoor furniture cushions, brooms, or other flammable items when not in use
From 30 to at least 100 feet around the house – In this zone, reduce or replace as much of the most flammable vegetation as possible. – Create “fuel breaks,” such as driveways, gravel walkways, and lawns. – Prune tree limbs 6 to 10 feet from the ground. – As in Zone 1, if you live on a hill, you may need to extend this zone further than 100 feet for additional safety.
From 100 to 200 feet from the house – Keep vegetation thinned to remove underbrush and keep tall trees from creating touching canopies. – Stack firewood at least 100 feet away from the structure.
Water… Super important
Identify and maintain water sources, such as hydrants, ponds, swimming pools, and wells, and ensure that they are accessible to the fire department. – Have a garden hose(s) that is long enough to reach any area of the house and other structures. When evacuating, leave hoses connected to a water source so that they are available for firefighters.
If you would like more information, the following resources may be helpful. –
Fire Adapted Community: www.fireadapted.org
Forests and Rangelands, Community Wildfire Protection Plans: www.forestsandrangelands.gov/communities/cwpp.shtml
Home Builders’ Guide to Construction in Wildfire Zones, Technical Fact Sheet Series (FEMA P-737, September 2008): www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/15962?id=3646
Inter-Agency Wildfire information: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/
International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC); Ready, Set, Go! Program: www.wildlandfirersg.org
National Fire Protection Association (NFPA): www.nfpa.org
NFPA’s Firewise Communities Program: www.firewise.org
National Interagency Fire Center: www.nifc.gov
National Weather Service Fire Weather: www.srh.noaa.gov/ridge2/fire/
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Disaster-Specific Resources: Annotated Bibliography: www.samhsa.gov/dtac/dbhis/dbhis_specific_bib.asp#disaster
U.S. Forest Service: www.fs.fed.us/fire/
U.S. Fire Administration (USFA): www.usfa.fema.gov