Essential tips for staying safe during a wildfire

Essential tips for staying safe during a wildfire
Published Wednesday, September 13, 2023
by Feature Staff

Hearing the word "wildfire" is frightening, especially if your home is within proximity to one. As with any emergency, it's best to prepare in case a disastrous event occurs. However, sometimes, you don't have time to prepare, so you need a plan you can implement quickly to protect yourself and your loved ones. Let's look at some essential tips for staying safe during a wildfire so that when an emergency is happening, you'll know what to do.

Get ready for a wildfire

The Boy Scouts' motto, "Be prepared," forever stands true. The best way to stay safe during a wildfire is to know what to do ahead of time and put emergency plans into place. You can do several things now to get your home wildfire-ready, just in case.

Cut off fuel sources

A fire's fuel sources are anything that is highly combustible, which may aid in spreading the flames. Here's what you can do to eliminate fuel sources:

  • Clear out any debris that can easily burst into flames. That might be dried leaves and twigs, vines growing on the side of the house, and outdoor furniture.
  • Use stones and gravel for landscaping instead of mulch, which is flammable.
  • Keep trees far apart when planting.
  • Trim branches that are low to the ground.
  • Choose roofing materials that won't burn as quickly, such as asphalt, tile, and slate.

Designate water sources

Attach garden hoses to your home. You can't extinguish a wildfire with a garden hose, but you can put out small flames while you await help. Make sure there is a clear path for the firefighters to reach other water sources nearby, such as a pond or lake, if you have access to them.

Know your escape plan

Knowing the safest route out of the forest and into town or other secure places is important if you live in an area prone to wildfires. Make sure you have a backup plan with more than one route.

When a wildfire strikes

Unfortunately, disaster sometimes strikes when we aren't expecting it. You can still take some steps to keep you, your family, and your home safe.

As you consider the situation, it's important to understand the difference between a controlled wildfire and a contained one when it is happening. You may be safe if the fire is under control because it is extinguished or nearly out. However, a contained fire means it is no longer spreading, but you may need to leave your home. The following are some tips for staying safe once the wildfire has begun:

  • Remove all drapes and curtains. They are highly flammable.
  • Push all the furniture to the center of each room.
  • Turn off any natural gas sources.
  • Close all windows and doors.
  • Listen to emergency announcements as they air so you know of safe routes.

Evacuate the area immediately when told to do so and leave the house as it is. Only follow the steps to protect your home when there is still some time.

Hopefully something so dangerous never happens to you and your family, but if it does, use these essential tips for staying safe during a wildfire to protect yourself and your loved ones.

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The Kiowa County Press is an independent newspaper published in Eads, Kiowa County, Colorado, and to the world at KiowaCountyPress.net.