Residential and Wildland Fires
Actions for Residential and Wildland Fires
Before a Fire
Make sure your home is free of unnecessary combustible materials.
➤ Do not store flammable liquids inside the home
➤ Do not run wires under carpets or rugs
➤ Do not store matches or cigarette lighters where children can get them
➤ Do not leave cooking unattended
➤ If you smoke, do not smoke in bed or in other positions where you may fall asleep. Also, have many large ashtrays in the home.
➤ Know avenues of escape. Always have two ways out of every room.
➤ Have a place to meet so no one tries to go back into a burning building to look for someone needlessly
➤ Have fire extinguishers near the kitchen and the garage
➤ Have escape ladders for all windows higher than eight feet off the ground
➤ Install a smoke detector in every bedroom, in every hallway outside of a bedroom, and at least one on every level of the house
➤ Test the smoke detector monthly. Change the batteries in the smoke detectors in the fall when you change your clocks.
➤ Plan and practice a family fire drill on the first of each month. A good plan will have a place to meet, two ways out of every room, and an escape ladder.
During a Fire
➤ If you are outside, stay outside. Do not return for anything. Do not re-enter the building until appropriate authorities have given permission.
➤ If you are inside, get out. Go to the nearest house or building and call 911. Report the address and type of fire. Listen to and follow instructions. Go to the family meeting place.
➤ If you are inside and have time, make sure everyone is out
➤ If you are in a closed room or office, do not open the door without first feeling it or the doorknob with the back of your hand so you don’t burn your hand. If it is warm or hot, do not open it, but unlock it to help rescue or fire personnel. ➤ If there is smoke, get under the smoke, no matter how low it is, and get out of the building
➤ If you cannot use the door or other means of escape to exit and there is smoke, use clothes, sheets, etc. to stop the smoke from coming in. Go to the window and yell or blow a whistle.
➤ If you see someone on fire, use a coat or blanket, but not your bare hands, to smother flames
➤ If possible, turn off the gas and electricity from outside the house
➤ In a public building, know two ways out. If you hear a fire alarm, immediately exit the building regardless of what you are doing. Follow the established evacuation instructions
Each year more than 4,000 Americans die and more than 25,000 are injured in fires, many of which could be prevented. Direct property loss due to fire is estimated at $8.6 billion annually. Working smoke alarms decrease your chances of dying in fire by half.
Before a Wildfire
To prepare for wildfires, you should:
➤ Mark the entrance to your property with address signs that are clearly visible from the road
➤ Keep lawn trimmed, leaves raked and the roof and rain gutters free from debris such as dead limbs and leaves
➤ Stack firewood at least 30 feet away from your residence
➤ Store flammable materials, liquids, and solvents in metal containers outside your residence, at least 30 feet away from structures and wooden fences
➤ Create defensible space by thinning trees and brush within 30 feet around your residence. Beyond 30 feet, remove dead wood, debris and low tree branches
➤ Landscape your property with fire resistant plants and vegetation to prevent fire from spreading quickly. For example, hardwood trees are more fire-resistant than pine, evergreen, eucalyptus or fir trees
➤ Make sure water sources, such as hydrants, ponds, swimming pools and wells are accessible to the fire department ➤ Use fire resistant, protective roofing and material like stone, brick, and metal to your residence. Avoid using wood materials, they offer the least fire protection
➤ Cover all exterior vents, attics and eaves with metal mesh screens no larger than 6 millimeters or 1/4 inch to prevent debris from collecting and to help keep sparks out
➤ Install multi pane windows, tempered safety glass, or fireproof shutters to protect large windows from radiant heat ➤ Use fire-resistant draperies for added window protection
➤ Have chimneys, wood stoves, and all home heating systems inspected and cleaned annually by a certified specialist ➤ Insulate chimneys and place spark arresters on top. The chimney should be at least 3 feet above the roof
➤ Remove branches hanging above and around the chimney Follow Local Burning Laws Before burning debris in a wooded area, make sure you notify local authorities, obtain a burning permit and follow these guidelines:
1. Use an approved incinerator with a safety lid or covering with holes no larger than 3/4 inch.
2. Create at least a 10-foot clearing around the incinerator before burning debris. 3. Have a fire extinguisher or garden hose on hand when burning debris.
During a Wildfire
If a wildfire threatens your home and time permits, take the following precautions:
➤ Shut off gas at the meter. Only a qualified professional can safely turn the gas back on
➤ Seal attic and ground vents with precut plywood or commercial seals
➤ Turn off propane tanks
➤ Place combustible patio furniture inside
➤ Connect garden hose to outside taps. Place lawn sprinklers on the roof and near above ground fuel tanks. Wet the roof
➤ Wet or remove shrubs within 15 feet of your residence
➤ Gather fire tools, such as a rake, axe, handsaw or chainsaw, bucket and shovel
➤ Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape. Shut doors and roll up windows. Close garage windows and doors, but leave them unlocked. Disconnect automatic garage door openers
➤ Open fireplace damper. Close fireplace screens
➤ Close windows, vents, doors, blinds or noncombustible window coverings, and heavy drapes. Remove flammable drapes and curtains
➤ Move flammable furniture into the center of the residence away from windows and sliding glass doors
➤ Close all interior doors and windows to prevent drafts
➤ Place valuables that will not be damaged by water in a pool or pond If advised to evacuate, do so immediately.