Whether it be the rise of global temperatures, negligent human activity, or arson, wildfires have become increasingly prevalent and destructive. Wildfires pose a real danger not only to rural areas but to urban & suburban communities as well. As wildfire seasons grow longer and more intense, it is essential for us to proactively prepare and minimize our potential risks. Today, I’d like to explore practical steps you can take to help prepare for wildfire season, protect your home, and keep those you love safe.
1. Keep Track of Current Conditions
One of the first steps in wildfire preparedness is to stay informed about local conditions.
- Sign up for emergency alerts and notifications from local authorities and stay updated on weather forecasts. Thanks to today’s technology and social media platforms, it is easier than ever to track the movement of wildfires to help you stay informed.
- Use Google Maps. Wildfires can be tracked by using Google Maps app on our phone. There are many layers you can add, including wildfires. With this filter, you can see all the wildfires in your area and how big they are. To access this layer, click on the button on the top right of the map below the search bar, which has a diamond logo layered over another diamond.
- Familiarize yourself with evacuation routes and emergency shelters in your area.
Awareness and early warning are critical and can make the difference to how you are impacted by a wildfire.
2. Create a Defensible Space
Creating a defensible space around your home is a crucial element in protecting it from approaching wildfires.
- Clear vegetation and debris at least 30 feet from your house, removing dead plants, dry leaves, and other flammable materials.
- Trim tree branches within 10 feet of chimneys and roofs to reduce the risk of embers igniting your home.
- Regularly maintain your gutters, removing leaves and debris that could become fuel for a fire.
- Replace flammable materials such as wood shingles or siding with fire-resistant alternatives like metal or cement.
If you cannot do these things yourself (especially roofing material), hire local help or contact your local government office for assistance.
3. Develop an Emergency Plan
Prepare an emergency plan for your household to ensure everyone knows what to do in the event of a wildfire.
- Establish evacuation routes and designate meeting points outside your neighborhood.
- Assign responsibilities to each family member, such as gathering essential documents, packing emergency kits, or securing pets.
- Practice fire drills regularly to reinforce the plan and make adjustments if needed.
- Consider vulnerable family members, such as children, the elderly, or individuals with mobility issues, and ensure their needs are accounted for in the plan.
4. Prepare an Emergency Supply Kit
Prepare an emergency kit containing essential supplies that can sustain your family for at least three days. Your kit will vary depending on your needs, but here are some general things that Cal Fire suggests you include:
- Face masks or coverings (respiratory masks, such as N95 and KN95 masks, provide the best protection from the small particles in wildfire smoke)
- Three-day supply of nonperishable food and three gallons of water per person
- Map marked with at least two evacuation routes
- Prescription drugs or special medications
- Change of clothing
- Extra eyeglasses or contact lenses
- Extra set of car keys, credit cards, cash, or traveler’s checks
- First aid kit
- Battery-powered radio and extra batteries
- Sanitary supplies
- Copies of important documents (birth certificates, passports, etc.)
- Pet food and water
5. Additional Safeguards
These additional tips can further protect your home against wildfires:
- Install fire-resistant shutters or coverings for windows to protect them from radiant heat.
- Purchase fire proof safe where you can store important documents, records, photographs, and other mementos.
- Ensure your address is clearly visible from the road, aiding emergency responders.
- Keep flammable materials like firewood or propane tanks at least 30 feet from your home.
- Regularly maintain your property by removing dead vegetation and regularly watering plants.
- Install spark arrestors on chimneys to prevent embers from igniting your roof.
Our climate is becoming increasingly hotter and dryer and we can no longer ignore the possibility that we will be impacted by wildfires. It is no longer a matter of if but when. However, by staying informed, creating a defensible space, developing an emergency plan, assembling an emergency kit, and safeguarding your home, you can reduce the risks associated with wildfires and protect yourself, your loved ones, and property.
This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information, and provided by Attune Financial Planning. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information only.