Wildfire Safety

Are you prepared for a potentially dangerous wildfire season? According to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), the southern Arizona region has been identified as a “very high threat” for wildfire. The warning has been issued, in part, for the relatively dry winter (low precipitation), dry / overgrown vegetation, and warm temperatures.

Every year homes, lives and property are destroyed and threatened by wildfire. This is clearly illustrated by the more than 2,986,826 acres of land that were destroyed by wildfires during the year 2000. Moreover, the cost of fighting these fires exceeded $1,362,367,000.

A variety of intrinsic and extrinsic factors lead to a potentially dangerous wildfire season. Unfortunately, we are unable to control the intrinsic or natural contributors to wildfire (heat, low humidity, dry vegetation, etc.). However, homeowners can play a significant role in reducing the devastation of wildfire by protecting themselves and their homes.

What should you do:

  • Create 30’, 50′ or 100′ defensible space around home by thinning trees and removing low lying brush and vegetation
  • Maintain 12’ wide driveways for access to property and home
  • Place spark arrestor wiring around your chimney to prevent embers from entering the home
  • Ensure that your property address is clearly visible from roadway
  • Ensure that all smoke detectors are operable
  • Design and practice home escape plans and drills
  • Call 911 immediately to report ALL fires
  • Properly dispose of cigarettes in a windproof ashtray

What you should NOT do:

  • Never discard cigarettes on ground (always use an ashtray)
  • Do not store flammable or combustible materials around home
  • Do not drive overheated vehicles onto dry vegetation areas
  • Do not burn materials outdoor (recreational fires, etc.)
  • Do not underestimate the devastating force of wildfire

Before a wildfire strikes:

  • Know the location of your gas, electric and water main shut-off controls
  • Understand how to use a fire extinguisher safely
  • Plan an escape route from your home to a “safe” location
  • Put together a three-day emergency supply kit (food, medicine, clothes)
  • Talk to your neighbors about wildfire safety
  • Consider how you may help a neighbor that has special need (elderly, etc.)
  • Periodically review your homeowners insurance policy to insure that “if a disaster strikes” you have sufficient insurance coverage to rebuild your home and life
  • Properly dispose of cigarettes in a windproof ashtray

If a wildfire is threatening the area you live:

  • Listen to news and radio reports for information
  • Back your vehicle into the garage for easy escape
  • Close garage doors and windows
  • Confine pets to one room and make plans for pet care in the event of an evacuation
  • When advised to evacuate, do so immediately
  • Arrange temporary housing outside the threatened area and notify relatives and friends of your “new” location

If you are sure you have time, take additional steps to protect your home:

  • Close windows, vents, doors, blinds, and heavy drapes
  • Remove any lightweight fabrics from windows and doors
  • Shut off gas at the meter and turn off pilot lights
  • Move flammable furniture into the center of each room away from windows
  • Turn a light on in each window to increase visibility of your home
  • Seal attic and ground vents
  • Turn off propane tanks
  • Place combustible patio furniture inside
  • Connect the garden hose to outside hose bibs
  • Place lawn sprinklers on the roof and near above ground fuel tanks
  • Wet or remove shrubs within 30′ of the home

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