Surviving a Wildfire: What You MUST Know

On June 11, 2013, a forest fire started in Black Forest Colorado. This
fire turned into a raging wildfire that destroyed over 500 homes and
thousands of people had to be evacuated. This should highlight just how
catastrophic wildfires can be.

The same can be said right now happening in California.

Wildfires usually occur in rural areas where there is a lot of vegetation
and combustible material. If you live near the woods or the countryside
where wildfires could pose a very real threat, you MUST be aware and prepared.

During periods where it’s extremely hot, all it takes is a dry twig catching
fire to turn the entire forest into a raging wildfire. Humidity is another
factor. The drier the air is, the more combustible the vegetation will be.
The plants are dried out and perfect as fuel for a fire.

Wind will worsen the problem by fanning the flames and spreading them even
further. This can be a huge problem and cause the wildfire to spread faster.
Just being aware of how dangerous wildfires can be should motivate you to
be prepared.

* Safe zone
The first step will be to create a safe zone for your home. You need to mark
out a circumference with a 12-meter radius around your home. It MUST be clear
of plants, trees, shrubs, etc. Fire needs fuel to burn. If this 12-meter
radius has no fuel, it’ll be difficult for the fire to reach your house.

After this 12-meter radius, you’ll want another circumference with an
additional 5-meter radius where you have an irrigation system to keep the
soil damp and moist. This will retard the fire. Any plants in this area
should only comprise of small plants that are not too high such as potted
plants, shrubs, etc.

So now, you have a 17-meter radius around your house that the fire will
be less likely to reach. For extra measure, you could have another
circumference with a 7-meter radius with drought-resistant plants, etc.
The goal here is to create a landscape for your home that prevents the
fire from reaching it.

* But what about me?
You will NOT be in the home. Creating a safe zone for your house was
just to protect your property from damage. The moment there’s a wildfire
a distance away from you, the first step will be IMMEDIATE EVACUATION.

Fire is highly unpredictable and can be very volatile. With the fire
comes smoke that will irritate your eyes, obscuring your vision and suffocate
you. Most deaths by fire occur because of smoke inhalation.

It’s imperative that you install a dual-sensor alarm in your house that
detects for both fire and smoke. If there’s a wildfire at night, the
smoke alarm might pick up on it and the ringing will wake you up and give
you enough time to escape.

You should always be well-prepared with your bug out bags ready to go and
your vehicle should have fuel. Listen to radio broadcasts about the
weather. If there’s a wildfire nearby – EVACUATE immediately.

The good news is that fire burns uphill faster. So, if the fire is above
you, you have more time to get away. If the fire is below you, tough luck.
You’ll need to drive diagonally around it as fast as you can to get below
it.

In the unfortunate event that you’re surrounded by the fire while at home, the
safe zone will protect you to some degree. Store face masks and eye goggles
in your house. The masks will help you breathe better because there will be
pollutants in the air.

If possible, use a water hose to spray water out into the ‘safe zone’ to
wet it down. Spray water all around the exterior of your house.

* Ultimately
Ultimately, it all comes down to preparation. If you live in a forested
area, you should have created a safe zone, built your house with
non-combustible materials, installed smoke alarms and have several fire
extinguishers around the house. You should also have a fire extinguisher in
your vehicle for emergencies.

Always clean out your gutters and roof. All clogged material can become
fuel for a fire.

Have an evacuation plan and run it by your family often. Practice the drill
once a month or so. This will train everyone to respond instinctively.

Keep a first aid kit at home and one in your vehicle. You might need it or
encounter someone who does. Have eyewash, burn ointment, face masks,
gauze, etc.

Once the wildfire has been put out or died down, you may return to your
house to check if it’s still standing and that the safe zone worked. Do not
move in yet. Get an engineer or an expert to ascertain if the structural
integrity of the house is intact.

You can move in when you get the green light. Adhere to these tips and
you’ll protect your property and your family from one of the worst types
of weather catastrophes out there.