We are not helpless as there is a lot we can do to reduce the effects of such natural disasters. I witnessed the Carr Fire that was in California in 2018 and it was a terrifying experience. More than 1000 homes were destroyed and several people lost their lives. This guide to wildfire safety will equip you with valuable information that will enable you to keep your loved ones and property safe in the event of wildfires.
Causes of WILDFIRE!
Before we take a look at some of the causes of wildfires, I believe it’s important that we first understand what this term really means; so, what’s a wildfire? A wildfire can be defined simply as a huge and unbounded fire that emerges in a zone with vegetation that is flammable. Since this is a general name, wildfires, are classified depending on the areas they have broken out in. If, for instance, they have broken out in a forest they are referred to as forest fires with those consuming a bush being referred to as bushfires.
Wildfires can be as a result of either natural or man-made factors but it has been established that most of the fires are caused by humans. In the United States, for example, studies have found that almost 85% of wildland fires are normally as a result of human activities such as arson. A lot of wildfires have started as a result of individuals setting properties on fire intentionally in their attempt of either making a profit by collecting insurance money, taking revenge, or even vandalism.
Shifting cultivation is another perfect example of some of our activities that can lead to wildfires. There are farmers who prefer to clear their land using fire and if there is a bush nearby the fire spreads becoming unmanageable bushfire. Other human activities that might cause wildfires include; poor disposal of cigarette butts and campfires. After looking at the above factors, it’s safe to conclude that if we stopped being careless and ignorant, wildfires would drastically reduce.
Natural causes of wildfires include things that we cannot control such as volcanic eruption, dry lightning, and torrid climate. Volcanic eruptions are very destructive by themselves and if the hot lava reaches flammable areas such as forests, wildfires might break out making things even worse. There are instances where lightning appears without rainfall being present; if it strikes a flammable area such as a bush or a tree, this can also lead to huge wildfires.
Things to Do Before a Wildfire Break Out
Wildfires are one of those things that we hope to never cross our paths with but unfortunately, we cannot be able to control when they will come, especially when living in fire-prone areas. What we can do is to take steps that will ensure that we and our properties are protected against such natural disasters. The following are some of the steps you should take to ensure that your property and loved ones are secure:
- Within 30 feet from your residential or business property, you should always ensure there is nothing that is flammable. This means that the area should not have things such as trees, lawn furniture that is flammable, dried leaves, or any other flammable materials that can help the wildfire to reach your property.
- Possibilities of occurrence of wildfires should not make us stop doing the right things such as planting more trees. What you should do when planting them in your property is ensuring that there is enough space between. This helps to keep their branches from touching, something that leads to the spread of wildfires. After the trees are mature, you should make certain that their branches are not near the ground and that there is no flammable flora around the trees.
- Another amazing way of protecting your property and loved ones from wildfires is the creation of fuel breaks in and around your property. A Fuel break is an area where vegetation and trees have been removed to prevent the spread of fire. Driveways and pathways made from incombustible materials such as bricks and gravel are ideal examples of fuel breaks you can use.
- In case you love being in the wild like I do, you should always make sure that you put the fire out before either leaving the campsite or even sleeping. Turning your eyes away from a campfire even for a second can easily lead to a disaster which is why you should ensure that the fire is always attended. When putting out the fire, there are few techniques you can use and they include stirring the ashes until they are cold. The best and safest option, however, is extinguishing the fire using cold water.
- There are many ways of getting rid of your waste and one of them is burning. If you prefer this kind of waste disposal method and you are living in a wildfire-prone area, you should be very careful not to burn your yard waste in windy conditions as this is can lead to wildfires.
- Having water sources in your property is a very good way of protecting your property and family from wildfires. Examples of water sources you can create in your property include fire hydrants, lakes, ponds, and swimming pools. You should construct the above water sources in a way they can be accessible by fire department if need be.
- There is a time when all plans seem to fail and you should also consider a situation when all the above steps fail to stop a wildfire. You should come up with an evacuation route which is safe and with a means of transport ready. This should be used as the last option when everything fails to work. Ensure that everybody in your property is aware of the route to avoid confusion and loss of life.
What to Do During a Wildfire
When we are faced with a great danger such as a wildfire, fear usually takes over and the results are chaos and confusion. This is something that can easily make a bad situation worse as you are likely to make a mistake that can even cost you your life. The following are some of the solutions to wildfire:
- The first thing is preparing yourself, your loved ones, or your employees to evacuate. In order for you to do so, you will have to first listen to all emergency information being provided on the relevant information channels by the relevant authorities regarding the status of the wildfire. This is very important as it will help you make informed choices. When packing, you should not carry anything you do not need as this will only make your escape more difficult and slower.
- Before taking off, make sure all windows are closed, all curtains & drapes are removed from the windows, and all the furniture is relocated to the center of the rooms. This is a very necessary step as it can help to save your property from catching fire.
- In situations such as this, even small things can make a huge difference which is why you should make sure that you leave your property with the lights on. In case your property is affected by the fire, it will be much easier for firefighters to see with the lights on.
- If you are driving, try as much as you can to stay calm and collected to avoid making the wrong decision. Also, ensure that your vehicle’s air vents and windows are all closed in order to keep out the smoke which can be problematic as it can irritate your eyes. Many people make a mistake of keeping their car doors locked during such incidences which is dangerous as you can easily be trapped in your car in case the fire caught up with you.
- In case you are not driving and the wildfire is oncoming, do not try to outrun it as you will not be successful. Instead, search for the nearest water body such as a swimming pool and get in. If you are not able to find a water body, find an area that does not have vegetation and cover yourself with either soil or a wet piece of clothing until the fire goes away.
What to Do After a Wildfire
It’s normal to be tempted to go back to your property after running away from a wildfire as we are curious by nature. One of the things you should do, however, is to wait for the relevant authorities to give you the go-ahead to return to your property. When you get to your property, inspect and document the damage done by the wildfire. You can do this by taking videos and photos and compiling a list of everything that has been destroyed by the fire. Report the damage to your insurance providers as soon as you are done documenting the damage and provide them with the videos and photos.
Wildfires are serious and come with huge economic, emotional, and environmental consequences as we lose our properties, loved ones, pets, wildlife, and vegetation. All we can do is to take the necessary safety steps and hope for the best because just like the government, fire truly knows no mercy!