FEMA Reminds Residents in States Prone to Wildfires to Prep for Season

June 8, 2005

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is reminding residents living areas prone to wildfires to be prepared and take action prior to the brutal effects of a devastating wildfire.

“I want to remind Americans that even thought we have seen heavy rainfall in April and May this year, do not be caught off guard – wildfires can strike at any time and cause loss of life and property,” said Michael Brown, under secretary of Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness and Response. “Knowing the risks and preparing now by taking the appropriate measures to protect your family and property can reduce damage and save lives.”

FEMA recommends the following preparedness steps in preparation for wildfires:

* Develop an emergency communication plan.
* In case family members are separated from one another when an order to evacuate due to a wildland fire is given (a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children are at school), have a plan for getting everyone together.
* Agree on an out-of state contact for everyone to call to report their safety and whereabouts.
* Make evacuation plans from the home and the neighborhood. Plan several routes in case the fire blocks the escape route.
* Pull together a disaster supply kit that will sustain the family for up to three days. Include: Flashlight and extra batteries, Portable, battery-operated radio and extra batteries; First aid kit and manual
Emergency food and water (for up to 3 days); Non-electric can opener; Essential medicines; Cash and credit cards; Sturdy shoes.
* Stay informed about wildfire preparedness and know the risks. Be aware of emergency information specific to the community, and take steps to reduce potential damage a wildfire could cause.
* Create a 30′ safety zone to separate the home from combustible plants and vegetation. Stone walls can act as heat shields and deflect flames. Swimming pools and patios can be a safety zone.
* Check for fire hazards around the home. Involve the entire family and get the kids involved.
* Install smoke detectors on every level of the home and near sleeping areas.
* Install electrical lines underground, if possible. Keep all trees and shrub limbs trim, so they don’t come in contact with the wires.
* Prune all branches around the residence to a height of 8 to 10 feet and remove underbrush and vegetation around the home that can feed a fire.
* Keep the chimney clean and covered with spark arrestor.
* Regularly remove all dead limbs, needles, and debris from rain gutters.
* Store combustible or flammable materials in approved safety containers and keep away from the house.
* Use fire resistant materials when building, renovating, or retrofitting structures.
* Avoid using wooden shakes and shingles for a roof. Rather, use tile, stucco, metal siding, brick, rock or other fire-resistant materials. Use only thick, tempered, safety glass in large and sliding glass doors.
* Avoid open burning completely, and especially during dry season.
Build fires away from nearby trees or bushes
* Always have a way to extinguish the fire quickly and completely
* Never leave a fire – even a cigarette – burning unattended.

For more information on wildfire preparedness, visit www.fema.gov or www.Ready.Gov.

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