Droughts and dry conditions throughout various times of the year
increase the risk for wildfires. Careless use of fire in
highly wooded areas can also dramatically increase the chance of a
wildfire, which can then quickly spread across trees and dry brush
and threaten homes and businesses that are in the vicinity.
Wildfires often begin unnoticed. However, they spread
quickly and every second counts! Talk with members of your
household about wildfires -- how to prevent them and what to do if
How to Prepare for a Wildfire:
- Post emergency phone numbers by every phone in your home.
- Make sure driveway entrances and your house number or
address are clearly marked.
- Identify and maintain an adequate water source outside your
home, such as a small pond, cistern, well or swimming pool.
- Set aside household items that can be used as fire tools:
a rake, ax, hand saw or chain saw, bucket and shovel. You
may need to fight small fires before emergency responders
- Select building materials and plants that resist fire.
- Regularly clean roofs and gutters.
Plan ahead and stay as safe as possible during a
- Plan and practice two ways out of your neighborhood in case
your primary route is blocked.
- Select a place for family members to meet outside your
neighborhood in case you cannot get home or need to evacuate.
- Identify someone who is out of the area to contact if local
phone lines are not working.
During a Wildfire:
If there are reports of a Wildfire in your area:
- Be ready to leave at a moment's notice. To plan your
Mountain Evacuation Routes.
- Listen to local radio and television stations for updated
- Always back your car into the garage or park it in an open
space facing the direction of escape.
- Confine pets to one room so that you can find them if you
need to evacuate quickly.
- Arrange for temporary housing at a friend or relative's home
outside the threatened area.
- Listen and watch for air quality reports and health warnings
- Keep indoor air clean by closing windows and doors to
prevent outside smoke from getting in.
- Use the recycle or re-circulate mode on the air conditioner
in your home or car. If you do not have air conditioning
and it is too hot to stay inside with closed windows, seek
- When smoke levels are high, do not use anything that burns
and adds to indoor air pollution, such as candles, fireplaces
and gas stoves. Do not vacuum because it stirs up
particles that are already inside your home.
- If you have asthma or another lung disease, follow your
health care provider's advice and seek medical care if your
After a Wildfire:
Returning Home & Recovering after a Wildfire:
- Do not enter your home until fire officials say it is safe.
- Use caution when entering burned areas as hazards may still
exist, including hot spots, which can flare up without warning.
- 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 pet's
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
- Cleaning products, paint, batteries and damaged fuel
containers need to be disposed of properly to avoid risk.
Inspecting Your Home:
- If there's no power, check to make sure the main
breaker is on. Fires may cause breakers to trip. If
the breakers are on and power is still not present, contact the
- Inspect the roof immediately and extinguish any sparks or
embers. Wildfires may have left burning embers that could
- For several hours afterward, recheck for smoke and sparks
throughout the home, including the attic. The winds of
wildfires can blow burning embers anywhere. Keep checking
your home for embers that could cause fires.
- Take precautions while cleaning your property. You may
be exposed to potential health risks from hazardous materials.
- Debris should be wetted down to minimize health impacts from
breathing dust particles.
- Use a two-strap dust particulate mask with nose clip and
coveralls for the best minimal protection.
- Wear leather gloves to protect hands from sharp objects
while removing debris.
- Wear rubber gloves when working with outhouse remnants,
plumbing fixtures and sewer piping. They can contain high
levels of bacteria.
- Hazardous materials such as kitchen and bathroom cleaning
products, paint, batteries, contaminated fuel and damaged fuel
containers need to be properly handled to avoid risk.
Check with local authorities for hazardous disposal assistance.
- If you have a propane tank system, contact a propane
supplier. Turn off valves on the system and leave valves
closed until the supplier inspects your system.
- If you have a heating oil tank system, contact a heating oil
supplier for an inspection of your system before using.
- Visually check the stability of the trees. Any tree
that has been weakened by fire may be a hazard.
- Look for burns on the tree trunk. If the bark on the
trunk has been burned off or scorched by very high temperatures
completely around the circumference, the tree will not survive
and should be considered unstable.
- Look for burnt roots by probing the ground with a rod around
the base of the tree and several feet away from the base.
If the roots have been burned, you should consider this tree
- A scorched tree is one that has lost part or all of its
leaves or needles. Healthy deciduous trees are resilient
and may produce new branches and leaves as well as sprouts at
the base of the tree. Evergreen trees may survive when
partially scorched but are at risk for bark beetle attacks.