Wildfires devastate cities, destroy millions of acres of wildland, burn down homes, and put people in harm’s way every year. The risks are highest in dry or drought-struck climates, but wildfire can happen almost anywhere.
One of the reasons wildfires are so hard to prepare for and what makes them so dangerous is they’re hugely unpredictable. While controlled burning rooted in Indigenous knowledge has helped maintain the health of forests for centuries, the frequency of fires that burn out of control has risen in recent decades. Humans cause the vast majority of wildfires in the US.
People are part of the problem, but knowing how to prepare for a wildfire can empower you to be a part of the solution. To protect yourself, your family, and your property from the worst effects of a wildfire, here’s what you need to know about wildfire preparedness.
Wildfires are prevalent in many parts of the United States, particularly in western states. Understanding the risks you face in your region is the first step to wildfire preparedness.
Next, it’s essential to know the warning signs of wildfires. Drought, dry winters, and high winds are possible indicators. Luckily, you don’t need to be an expert to be prepared. Wildfire-prone regions closely monitor conditions, and local authorities will alert residents if there is a fire risk in their area. They may issue fire bans in designated counties and parks if the risk level is high.
As a citizen, it’s your duty to heed these measures. Pay attention to local weather forecasts and subscribe to regional weather alert systems to stay informed.
Certain parts of the country have designated evacuation routes depending on where you live. Fires can spread quickly, leaving little time to prepare for evacuation in the moment. Getting familiar with the evacuation map for your city and state ahead of time helps ensure your family’s safety.
Prepare a Wildfire Emergency Kit
If a moment of crisis, there’s little time to prepare. That’s why it’s wise to stock up on essential supplies with an emergency supply kit. Your wildfire emergency kit should include the following:
- First aid supplies
- Clean water
- Nonperishable foods
- Medications (over-the-counter and prescribed)
- Extra clothing
- Hygiene supplies
- Face masks
Most of these are essential items in any emergency kit. The face masks and goggles may make evacuating easier by protecting your eyes and improving visibility, while the masks will help you avoid inhaling smoke.
Purchase a few backpacks you can use as ‘go-bags’ and stock them with supplies. You can safely stash these backpacks in the trunk of your vehicle or a closet in your home. Just be sure they’re somewhere you can access quickly.
Create an Emergency Plan
Depending on weather conditions, wildfires can sweep in quickly, without warning. Because of this, your family should have a comprehensive emergency plan that everyone understands and can follow. Treat it like a mandatory evacuation.
Crises don’t wait for a convenient moment to strike. Your family might not be safe at home together when things take a turn for the worst. If your kids are at school and your partner is at work or the grocery store, do they know where to meet and what to do? A comprehensive action plan can make all the difference when facing a wildfire.
Don’t forget to factor your pets into the equation, too! You are responsible for the well-being and safety of your pets, so include them in your emergency plan and ensure you have enough pet supplies prepped in case of evacuation.
Prepare Your Home
In a wildfire, the priority is always the safety of your family. However, you can take steps that reduce the risk your home faces if it is in the path of a wildfire.
Even if your home is not in the direct path of a fire, flying embers can travel up to a mile and cause your home to burn down. The basic rule of thumb to protect your home from fire is to reduce the presence of highly-combustible materials, such as wood and vegetative debris. For example, if your roof has wood shingles, consider upgrading to a non-combustible material such as tile or clay. Use ember and flame-resistant materials and coating whenever possible.
Lawn maintenance is also part of preventative care. Rake leaves and ensure your gutters are free of dry materials that could easily catch flame. This process is commonly called ‘hardening’ your home.
Invest in Backup Power
Wildfires can wreak havoc on electric grids. Even if your home itself is left unscathed, the aftermath of a wildfire may leave your home without power, sometimes for days or weeks. Investing in a backup power source is one of the best things you can do to prepare for a fire.
Products like EcoFlow’s DELTA Solar Generators are a great way to harness renewable solar energy if you lose power. And since many wildfire-prone regions also have lots of sunlight, a solar generator is a logical, financially-savvy choice!
If you aren’t ready to switch to solar, the DELTA Portable Power Stations offer a suitable alternative with the same electricity storage and output capacity. You can keep your portable power station using various methods, including household AC electricity and car adapters. Just keep it plugged in until you need it. You always have the option to add solar panels later if you want to generate your own power and reduce your dependence on the grid.
If you live in an area where wildfires are an uncommon occurrence, you can still be prepared to keep your essential devices charged and running without investing in a large PPS. Portable power stations are easy to travel with, particularly the RIVER series, and pack a lot of power into a small package.
The RIVER 2 is a robust backup power option you can easily take with you in an evacuation. Not only that, it’s the perfect power solution for short camping trips and off-grid RV adventures.
Know When to Return Home
It may be tempting to hop back in the car and head home as soon as the fire is over. But just because the fire has stopped doesn’t mean your city, neighborhood, and house are safe to return to just yet.
Downed power or utility lines can be hugely dangerous, and the air quality may not be safe for children, the elderly, and people with compromised respiratory systems. It’s even possible for the ground to contain hidden heat pockets that could cause burns. Always wait for official guidance from the authorities to return home.
Wildfires can be traumatic and damaging for everyone affected, but preparation can help protect your property and preserve your family’s safety. Research your risk and begin planning today.
If you’re interested in home or portable backup power, EcoFlow has the solution that’s right for you.