Things to do before a wildfire:
Remove excess trees, dead trees and shrubs, and highly flammable shrubs. (Removing large trees near your house can be very dangerous for both you and your house, and is therefore a job for a skilled contractor.) Rather than plant shrubs near your house, consider landscaping alternatives such as creating a rock garden. Remove leaves and pine needles from roofs, gutters and downspouts. Prune low tree branches and mow-dried grass. Remove combustible items from around the house, such as woodpiles, patio furniture, barbecue grills, etc. Develop a family disaster response plan complete with escape routes and an emergency meeting place. Have an emergency go-kit with supplies readily available. This should include prescription medication and back-up eye glasses/contacts. Review your homeowners/renters insurance policy to ensure you have adequate coverage. If you do not have flood insurance, consider purchasing it by contacting your local insurance agent. Arrange temporary housing outside of the threatened area. Make arrangements for relocation of pets and animals. Place valuable papers and mementos in your car in case of evacuation.
Things to do during a wildfire:
Stay tuned to your local radio and television stations for updates on evacuations. Seal attic and ground vents. Close all doors inside your home to prevent drafts. Open the damper on your fireplace but close the fireplace screen. Wet your roof and shrubs within 15 feet of your home. Notify relatives and local officials that you have left your home and where you can be reached. Turn on outside lights and leave a light on in every room. This allows the home to be more visible in heavy smoke. Turn off gas and pilot lights.
Things to do when returning home after an evacuation:
Check the roof and the attic immediately for hidden burning sparks. Watch for flare-ups for several hours after the fire. Check with local building officials to verify building codes and recommendations. Continue building defensible space around your home. For more information go to www.firewise.org. Determine the potential for flooding and the need for erosion control. Consider mitigation during home improvements or during the reconstruction process. This could include such items as: Fire-resistant roofing materials such as asphalt shingles or metal roofs Tempered glass on windows, doors and skylights Spark arresters in chimneys Fire-resistant materials on undersides of decks Verify that your driveway bridges and gates will accommodate fire trucks. Develop a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). For more information go to www.fema.gov/emi/cert/. Check with your local fire protection district to see what community-based programs you can join. Consider purchasing flood insurance. For information go to www.fema.gov/nfip/answe2d.htm.