Wildfire: What you need to do before, during and after fires to protect you, your family and home

TULSA - In August 2012, wildfire ravaged Creek County leaving more than 58,000 acres burned and dozens of homes destroyed.

Do you know what to do to protect your family and your property?

BEFORE

-- Download Storm Shield Weather Radio app. You can set alerts to notify you of all types of storms including Fire Weather Watch and Red Flag Warning. Available for  iPhone (http://bit.ly/kjrhstormshield)and Android (http://bit.ly/stormshieldandroid).

-- To begin preparing, you should build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.

-- Design and landscape your home with wildfire safety in mind. Select materials and plants that can help contain fire rather than fuel it.

-- Use fire-resistant or noncombustible materials on the roof and exterior structure of the dwelling, or treat wood or combustible material used in roofs, siding, decking or trim with fire-retardant chemicals evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).

-- Plant fire-resistant shrubs and trees. For example, hardwood trees are less flammable than pine, evergreen, eucalyptus or fir trees.

-- Regularly clean roof and gutters.

-- Inspect chimneys at least twice a year. Clean them at least once a year. Keep the dampers in good working order. Equip chimneys and stovepipes with a spark arrester that meets the requirements of National Fire Protection Association Standard 211. (Contact your local fire department for exact specifications.)

-- Use 1/8-inch mesh screen beneath porches, decks, floor areas, and the home itself. Also, screen openings to floors, roof and attic.

-- Install a dual-sensor smoke alarm on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms; test monthly and change the batteries at least once each year.

-- Teach each family member how to use a fire extinguisher (ABC type) and show them where it's kept. Keep handy household items that can be used as fire tools: a rake, axe, handsaw or chain saw, bucket and shovel.

-- Keep a ladder that will reach the roof.

-- Consider installing protective shutters or heavy fire-resistant drapes.

-- Clear items that will burn from around the house, including wood piles, lawn furniture, barbecue grills, tarp coverings, etc. Move them outside of your defensible space.

PREPARE YOUR HOME BEFORE A WILDFIRE

-- Rake leaves, dead limbs and twigs. Clear all flammable vegetation.

-- Remove leaves and rubbish from under structures.

-- Thin a 15-foot space between tree crowns, and remove limbs within 15 feet of the ground.

-- Remove dead branches that extend over the roof.

-- Prune tree branches and shrubs within 15 feet of a stovepipe or chimney outlet.

-- Ask the power company to clear branches from powerlines.

-- Remove vines from the walls of the home.

-- Mow grass regularly.

-- Clear a 10-foot area around propane tanks and the barbecue. Place a screen over the grill - use nonflammable material with mesh no coarser than one-quarter inch.

-- Regularly dispose of newspapers and rubbish at an approved site. Follow local burning regulations.

-- Place stove, fireplace and grill ashes in a metal bucket, soak in water for 2 days; then bury the cold ashes in mineral soil.

-- Store gasoline, oily rags and other flammable materials in approved safety cans. Place cans in a safe location away from the base of buildings.

-- Stack firewood at least 100 feet away and uphill from your home. Clear combustible material within 20 feet. Use only wood-burning devices evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).

-- Review your homeowner's insurance policy and also prepare/update a list of your home's contents.

DURING (IF EVACUATION HAS NOT BEEN ORDERED)

-- Arrange temporary housing at a friend or relative’s home outside the threatened area in case you need to evacuate.

-- Wear protective clothing when outside – sturdy shoes, cotton or woolen clothes, long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, gloves and a handkerchief to protect your face.

-- Gather fire tools such as a rake, axe, handsaw or chainsaw, bucket and shovel.

-- Close outside attic, eaves and basement vents, windows, doors, pet doors, etc. Remove flammable drapes and curtains. Close all shutters, blinds or heavy non-combustible window coverings to reduce radiant heat.

-- Close all doors inside the house to prevent draft. Open the damper on your fireplace, but close the fireplace screen.

-- Shut off any natural gas, propane or fuel oil supplies at the source.

-- Connect garden hoses to outdoor water faucet and fill any pools, hot tubs, garbage cans, tubs or other large containers with water.

-- Place lawn sprinklers on the roof and near above-ground fuel tanks. Leave sprinklers on and dowsing these strutures as long as possible.

-- If you have gas-powered pumps for water, make sure they are

fueled and ready.

-- Place a ladder against the house in clear view.

-- Disconnect any automatic garage door openers so that doors can still be opened by hand if the power goes out. Close all garage doors.

-- Place valuable papers, mementos and anything "you can't live without" inside the car in the garage, ready for quick departure. Any pets still with you should also be put in the car.

-- Place valuables that will not be damaged by water in a pool or pond.

-- Move flammable furniture into the center of the residence away from the windows and sliding-glass doors.

-- Turn on outside lights and leave a light on in every room to make the house more visible in heavy smoke.

AFTER

Go to a designated public shelter if you have been told to evacuate or you feel it is unsafe to remain in your home. Text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (example: shelter 12345 ).

If you are with burn victims, or are a burn victim yourself, call 9-1-1 or seek help immediately; cool and cover burns to reduce chance of further injury or infection.

If you remained at home, check the roof immediately after the fire danger has passed. Put out any roof fires, sparks or embers. Check the attic for hidden burning sparks.

For several hours after the fire, maintain a "fire watch." Re-check for smoke and sparks throughout the house.

If you have evacuated, do not enter your home until fire officials say it is safe.

If a building inspector has placed a color-coded sign on the home, do not enter it until you get more information, advice and instructions about what the sign means and whether it is safe to enter your home.

If you must leave your home because a building inspector says the building is unsafe, ask someone you trust to watch the property during your absence.

Use caution when entering burned areas as hazards may still exist, including hot spots, which can flare up without warning.

If you detect heat or smoke when entering a damaged building, evacuate immediately.

If you have a safe or strong box, do not try to open it. It can hold intense heat for several hours. If the door is opened before the box has cooled, the contents could burst into flames.

Avoid damaged or fallen power lines, poles and downed wires.

Watch for ash pits and mark them for safety—warn family and neighbors to keep clear of the pits also.

Watch animals closely and keep them under your direct control. Hidden embers and hot spots could burn your pets’ paws or hooves.

Follow public health guidance on safe cleanup of fire ash and safe use of masks.

Wet debris down to minimize breathing dust particles.

Wear leather gloves and heavy soled shoes to protect hands and feet.

Cleaning products, paint, batteries and damaged fuel containers need to be disposed of properly to avoid risk.

Discard any food that has been exposed to heat, smoke or soot.

Do NOT use water that you think may be contaminated to wash dishes, brush teeth, prepare food, wash hands, make ice or make baby formula.

Remain calm. Pace yourself. You may find yourself in the position of taking charge of other people. Listen carefully to what people are telling you, and deal patiently with urgent situations first.

 

Source: FEMA

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Be Prepared for the Storm