Wildfires are unplanned fires that burn in natural areas like forests, grasslands or prairies. These dangerous fires spread quickly and can devastate not only wildfire and natural areas, but also communities.
Prepare for Wildfires
Recognize Warnings and Alerts
- Have several ways to receive alerts. Download the FEMA app and receive real-time alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five locations nationwide. Sign up for community alerts in your area and be aware of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA)- which requires no-sign up.
- Sign up for email updates and follow the latest guidelines about coronavirus from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and your local authorities to prevent the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19
- Pay attention to air quality alerts.
Make an Emergency Plan
Review Important Documents
- Make sure your insurance policies and personal documents like ID are up to date.
- Make copies and keep them in a secure password protected digital space.
Strengthen your Home
- Use fire-resistant materials to build, renovate or make repairs.
- Find an outdoor water source with a hose that can reach any area of your property.
- Create a fire-resistant zone that is free of leaves, debris or flammable materials for at least 30 feet from your home.
- Designate a room that can be closed off from outside air. Close all doors and windows. Set up a portable air cleaner to keep indoor pollution levels low when smoky conditions exist.
Know your Evacuation Zone
- You may have to evacuate quickly due to a wildfire. Learn your evacuation routes, practice with household, pets, and identify where you will go.
- If you must evacuate to a public shelter, try to bring items that can help protect you and others in the shelter from COVID-19, such as hand sanitizer, cleaning materials, and two masks per person. Children under 2 years old and people who have trouble breathing should not wear masks. COVID-19
- Follow the instructions from local authorities. They will provide the latest recommendations based on the threat to your community and appropriate safety measures.
- Review the CDC’s guidelines for “Going to a Public Disaster Shelter During the COVID-19 Pandemic.” COVID-19
- Have enough supplies for your household, include medication, disinfectant supplies, masks, pet supplies in your go bag or car trunk.
- If you already have an N95 mask, use this to protect yourself from smoke inhalation. N95 masks also protect against the spread of COVID-19, however they should be reserved for healthcare workers. If are in a public cleaner air space or shelter, use a mask to help slow the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19
- Keep your cell phone charged when wildfires could be in your area. Purchase backup charging devices to power electronics.
Stay Safe During
- Evacuate immediately if authorities tell you to do so!
- If possible, bring items with you when you evacuate that can help protect you and others from COVID-19 while sheltering. Examples include hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol, cleaning materials, and two cloth masks per person to prevent the spread of infection. COVID-19
- If trapped, then call 911 and give your location, but be aware that emergency response could be delayed or impossible. Turn on lights to help rescuers find you.
- Pay attention to any health symptoms if you have asthma, COPD, heart disease, or are pregnant. If you are sick and need medical attention, contact your healthcare provider for further care instructions and shelter in place, if possible. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 9-1-1.
- Pay attention to emergency alerts and notifications for information and instructions.
- Use an N95 mask to protect yourself from smoke inhalation.
- If you are not ordered to evacuate but smoky conditions exist, stay inside in a safe location or go to a community building where smoke levels are lower.
Returning Home After a Wildfire
- Do not return home until authorities say it is safe to do so.
- Avoid hot ash, charred trees, smoldering debris, and live embers. The ground may contain heat pockets that can burn you or spark another fire.
- When cleaning, wear protective clothing, including a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, work gloves, appropriate cloth face coverings or masks, and sturdy thick-soled shoes during clean-up efforts.
- Use appropriate masks or respirators.
- When cleaning up ash, use a respirator to limit your exposure and wet debris to minimize breathing dust particles
- People with asthma and/or other lung conditions should take precautions in areas with poor air quality, as it can worsen symptoms. Children should not help with clean-up efforts.
- Send text messages or use social media to reach out to family and friends. Phone systems are often busy following a disaster.
- Document property damage with photographs. Conduct an inventory and contact your insurance company for assistance.