Wildfire Disaster Preparation Tips
Stay Up to Date on Wildland Fires throughout the Pacific Northwest
Wildfire season seems to come earlier and last longer each year. In the Pacific Northwest, being prepared can provide peace of mind. Having a plan in place for important paperwork, evacuation and supplies is quite simple.
Harden Your Home
Consider making your property more resistant to wildfire. Take individual responsibility to reduce flammable material around homes and communities before a fire occurs to keep your property and firefighters safe.
Below are a few actionable tips to take to prepare for a wildfire disaster, how to become aware and track the size of wildfires near you, and what to do if there is a wildfire in your area.
How to prepare for a wildfire disaster?
1. Learn about wildfire disaster risks in your area. Sign up for public alerts.
2. Post emergency phone numbers by every phone, make sure every family member has the same emergency phone numbers listed in their contacts in their cell phones.
3. Make sure drive entrances and your house number or address are clearly marked and visible.
4. Have defensible space around your home. Keep trees trimmed, your lawn watered. Maintain adequate water sources outside your home, like a pond, swimming pool, cistern or well.
5. Set aside and make household items like a rake, shovel, as, hand saw, chain saw, and a bucket, that can be used to fight fire accessible. You may have to put out small fires before emergency personnel get there.
6. Select building materials and plants that resist fire.
7. Select a place where family members can meet outside of your neighborhood in case you cannot get home or need to evacuate.
8. Make plans to move your pets and animals to a location away from the fire if you have to evacuate your home.
9. Check your home insurance policy, make sure the items you want to insure are listed and specify the correct amounts. If you are not sure call your insurance agent and get a listing of all your outbuildings and home to see how much insurance, you carry on each building.
10. Have your important papers, pictures, and documents stored where you can get to them in a hurry and take them with you. These days you can scan and that information to your computer and back it up to the cloud.
11. Take a home inventory. Go through everything in your home and outbuilding down to the kitchen junk drawer to prove to an insurance company that you owned all the items lost and so you can ask for the reimbursement after a fire event. If an item is special/rare or expensive categorize it on your insurance policy, this is common with some firearms, fine art, jewelry, collections, and furs.
There are several apps on your smartphone to make home inventories easier. Or, if you are not comfortable using an app you can simply take photos of everything and store them in the cloud so they are accessible in the event your phone or camera are lost or damaged.
Is there a wildfire near me?
The Northwest Fire Location map displays active fire incidents within Oregon and Washington.
This map is updated every day during wildfire disaster season. Here you can see if a wildfire is in your area and how much of it is under control. To learn more about a specific fire, simply click on the fire location.
What Should I Do If There Are Reports of Wildfire in My Area?
1. Be ready to leave in a moment’s notice. Obtain current wildfire information from the Department of Forestry.
2. Listen to local radio and television stations for updated emergency information. Sign up for alerts.
3. Know at least two different routes out of your neighborhood.
4. Know where your animals are. Plan how you are going to evacuate your pets as well as your family.
5. Have access to your important papers and photos backed up online and pack the originals in a file box in your car.
6. Park your car facing the road. You want to drive straight out if you need to leave in a hurry.
7. Keep an eye on air quality reports in your area. Smoke kills more people than fire.
8. Keep your windows and doors closed. Keep the air conditioning in your home or car set on recycle or re-circulate mode.
9. Pay attention to emergency personnel, if they ask you to evacuate do not argue. Follow other instructions like leaving your sprinklers on etc.
10. Locate Red Cross wildfire disaster shelters in your area if you are in need of temporary housing.
11. Call family members and let them know you are safe after you have been evacuated.
Be prepared and be safe during fire season. You can always replace things, but you cannot replace people or pets.