Wildfires are uncontrolled fires that affect woodlands and grasslands almost every year.
These types of fires are incredibly powerful and can devastate hundreds and thousands of acres of land quickly.
Wildfires are broken down into three different types.
- Ground Fires. Ground fires occur when roots and other underground material become ignited and burn. This will usually lead to a surface fire.
- Surface Fires. Surface fires burn dead material that is on the ground or hanging near it.
- Crown Fires. Crown fires are fires that burn through the tree canopy. These types of fires are highly susceptible to the wind which means they can move very quickly.
No matter what type of wildfire occurs in your area, the good news is that you can prepare for them, and often there are warnings of their presence.
Preparing for a Wildfire
Although it can happen, many people do not suddenly find themselves surrounded by a wildfire.
There is usually time for one to act accordingly and to decide on the safest course of action.
What To Do Before The Blaze
If you live in a region that experiences wildfires, there are a few things to do before the fire ever occurs.
As in any area that experiences natural disasters, you will want to make sure everything you own is properly insured and that everything is up to date.
Wildfires can move extremely fast and destroy everything that is in their path.
Once there is news of a fire, there may not be time or resources available to move worldly possessions to safety.
But having and keeping up with an insurance provider will help to ensure a fresh start should your home be affected.
Develop an Escape Plan
It is critical to take the time and sit down to create an escape plan in the event of a wildfire.
In fact, do not only develop one plan but several.
You never know where a fire is going to come from, how it will move, and what will be affected by it.
By having multiple escape routes, you will be able to act quickly, giving you the best chance of getting to a safe location.
To help safeguard your home, all combustibles should be moved as far away as possible from structures.
Items to move away from a home include:
- Flammable liquids and chemicals
- Yard waste
- Dead and overgrown vegetation
Maintain Water Access
Having several sources around a home that provide access to water will help put out embers, fires, and can be used to keep things wet.
Make sure wells and faucets are in good working order and have plenty of hoses that can reach around the property.
Whether building a new home or retrofitting a current structure, there are materials available that are flame retardant.
Some of these materials may be expensive but they will help in developing a line of defense against an out of control fire.
Building a Wildfire Survival Kit
Even if your home or property is not directly impacted by a wildfire, communications, utilities and roadways can be severely damaged. This means you could be cut off from the outside world for an undetermined amount of time.
If this happens, here is a list of items you may want to have.
- Water. Store as much clean water as possible along with filters and purification methods. In the event that you are caught off guard or storage space is low, fill all tubs, sinks, and available containers with water.
- Food. Store as much non-perishable and emergency food as possible. Do not rely on refrigeration or normal cooking methods as a wildfire can shut down utilities. Be sure to also have manual can openers, disposable plates/utensils, and garbage bags.
- Medical. General use first aid supplies should always be available but the addition of extra materials to deal with burns would be pertinent to have in this situation.
- Fire Retardant Gear. This can include clothing, blankets, and special coverings. Another consideration for clothing is to wear natural fibers and not synthetics. Natural fibers will burn whereas synthetics will melt onto the skin.
- PPE. Heavy-duty gloves, eye protection, and joint pads are always handy and will help to safeguard you from injury when working in a dangerous environment. Masks or respirators will help with dust, ash, and possibly smoke.
- Communications. A smartphone is everyone’s go-to communication device as everyone has one. A small backup battery pack that can be charged through solar or mechanical means will help keep the phone powered up. Emergency radios will keep you informed of outside news and other handheld radios or HAM radios can help to keep communication flowing when a smartphone ceases to work.
- Fire Extinguisher. Several of these are going to be needed and placed throughout a home. As important as this piece of gear is, it is always just as important to know how to effectively use them and to keep them properly charged. It is a good idea to check the charge on an extinguisher several times a year.
- Shovels. This tool can be used in various ways when dealing with fires. One of which is helping to extinguish a fire. Although not as effective, a shovelful of soil or sand can be thrown onto hot and burning embers when water is not available.
- Signaling. Should you be unable to leave your property it would be helpful to have a physical means of signaling for help. This can be a large reflective help sign, a bright flashlight, an emergency signal mirror, or brightly colored fabrics that can be used as flags. If possible, avoid using methods that involve fire or heat such as flares or a flare gun.
- Backup Lights. Being stuck in the dark is no fun and downright dangerous. Lanterns, flashlights, and emergency LEDs will provide light should the power grid be down. Be sure to have plenty of batteries or choose lights with alternative energy sources.
- Backup Power. Having a backup power source can help to keep the lights and other appliances running. But if you do not wish to spend the money on large generators that require fuel. Alternative sources include solar and wind. Small portable solar packages will at least help to keep a phone, computer, or other communication tool charged. The only problem with solar panels in a wildfire region is that there is a good chance they will be less efficient due to smoke.
- Air Filter. Wildfires will produce a lot of smoke and ash which is not only harmful but will make breathing difficult. It may be worth considering to designate a “safe room” in the home that is well sealed and has a designated air filtration unit. Have plenty of air filters on hand as well as a backup means of powering the unit.
Open Questions about Wildfire Survival Kits
Q: How do wildfires get started?
A: They are started naturally by a lightning strike or even from the Sun’s heat. However, there is a wide range of ways they can be inadvertently started by people, which are the most common causes of wildfires. Some examples are through the use of campfires, fireworks, downed powerlines, or even through unextinguished smoking products being discarded in an excessively dry regions.
Q: What time of year do wildfires happen?
A: A wildfire can happen at any point during the year. But a region is more prone to experience a wildfire during periods of excessive heat and drought.
Wildfires are an event that certain regions have to deal with on a fairly regular basis.
Sometimes these fires are manageable, and crews can extinguish them quickly.
Unfortunately, sometimes a wildfire can become wholly uncontrollable and people must be prepared to deal with everything this type of disaster entails.
Do all that you can to help prevent wildfires as well as being prepared for them.
Thanks for reading and stay prepared!
Do you live in a region that experiences wildfires? If so, sound off in the comment section below and let us know your thoughts on emergency preparations for wildfires.