Wildfires can start unexpectedly and spread quickly, often due to lightning strikes or accidents. You may not be aware of a wildfire until you are in danger, so it is important to be prepared for a wildfire, especially if you live in a dry, wooded area. Wildfires can be incredibly destructive and dangerous. They pose a threat not only to your home and community, but also to your family if you are not prepared.
How to Prepare for a Wildfire
- Be informed. Be aware of your area’s risk for wildfires.
- Make a written family evacuation plan.
- Make an emergency communication plan in case family members are separated.
- Practice fire safety by:
- Installing smoke detectors on every level of your home.
- Never leaving a fire (including a cigarette) burning unattended.
- Avoiding open burning.
- Keeping a ladder that will reach the roof.
- Create a 30-50 foot safety zone around your home by:
- Clearing the area of all flammable vegetation, including dry leaves and branches.
- Removing the vines from the side of your home.
- Regularly disposing of trash at approved sites.
- Storing gasoline and oily rags in proper safety cans.
- Regularly clean roof and gutters of debris.
- Inspect and clean chimneys at least once a year.
- Make sure you have a fire extinguisher as well as a hose that can reach all areas of the home.
- Build an emergency kit.
What to Do When There Is a Wildfire
- Listen to radio and TV for information and instructions.
- If you spot a wildfire, call 911 immediately. Do not assume that someone has already reported it.
- If directed to evacuate, do so immediately:
- Turn on porch lights and all the lights inside to make your home easier to spot in heavy smoke.
- Leave doors and windows unlocked for firefighters.
- Turn off gas.
- Fill any large containers with water, including pools, garbage cans, and tubs.
- Close all the doors in your house to prevent a draft.
- If time permits, clear the house and the area around it of any flammable items, including firewood, and cloth curtains.
- Take your emergency kit.
- Wear protective clothing.
- Once you are in a safe place, muster with your command if you are military or civilian personnel or a member of the selective reserves.
What to Do After a Wildfire
- Avoid damaged or fallen power lines, poles, and downed wires.
- Wear leather gloves and heavy soled shoes to protect hands and feet.
- Check the roof and attic for smoldering embers or fires.
- Put out any fires with the water stored in containers.
- Wet debris down to minimize breathing dust particles.
- Do NOT use water that you think may be contaminated.
- Maintain a fire watch for several hours, periodically checking for fires or smoke throughout and around the house.
- If you evacuated, do not return home until Fire Marshals say it is safe to do so.
- After a declared emergency, register your needs with the Navy through the Navy Family Accountability and Assessment System (NFAAS) at https://navyfamily.navy.mil or call 1-877-414-5358 or 1-866-297-1971 (TDD).
Where to Find Additional Information
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—www.bt.cdc.gov/firesafety/
- Department of Homeland Security (Ready.gov) & FEMA—www.ready.gov/wildfires