Wildfires are often unnoticed and can spread quickly posing a hazard to homes and rural areas. It is important to plan ahead in the event your home or property is threatened by a wildfire. Here are some basic steps you can take to prepare for a wildfire.
Before a Wildfire
- A wildfire may happen when family members are in different places, so create a family communications plan.
- Make a Ready kit for at least three days of self-sufficiency and prepare a portable Ready kit in case you have to evacuate.
- Plan ahead for your pets. Shelters cannot accept pets due to health reasons, so it’s important to find a pet-friendly hotel or make arrangements with family or friends in advance.
- Plan several escape routes away from your home, by car and by foot.
- Learn and teach safe fire practices.
- Learn your risk. In Georgia, the fire season is during the dry and windy months of February through May.
- Learn about the history of wildfire in your area. For more information about wildfire in Georgia, visit the Georgia Forestry Commission’s website.
- Be aware of recent weather. A long period without rain increases the risk of wildfire.
- Use fire-resistant materials when building, renovating or retrofitting structures.
- Keep leaves and needles off your roof and deck, and clean gutters regularly.
- Design and landscape your home with wildfire safety in mind and create a 30 to 100 ft. safety zone around your home by keeping flammable vegetation in this area to a minimum.
- Trim branches that overhang structures and prune branches of large trees within 15 ft. from the ground.
- Thin a 15-ft. space between tree crowns.
- Remove debris from under decks and porches.
- Clear combustible material within 20 ft. of your home.
- Install spark arrestors in chimneys and stovepipes that meet the requirements of National Fire Protection Association Standard 211. (Contact your local fire department for exact specifications.)
- Identify and maintain an adequate outside water source, such as a pool or pond.
- Have a garden hose that is long enough to reach any area of the home and other structures on the property.
- Keep handy household items that can be used as fire tools: A rake, axe, handsaw or chainsaw, bucket and shovel.
During a Wildfire
- Follow the instructions of local officials. If advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
- Monitor radio, NOAA Weather Radio or television for the latest updates.
- Close all doors and windows, but don’t lock them.
- Open or take down flammable curtains and close blinds and other non-flammable window coverings.
- Move flammable furniture into the center of the residence away from the windows and sliding-glass doors.
- Turn off air conditioning and close all vents.
- Fill any pools, hot tubs, garbage cans, tubs or other large containers with water.
- Prop a ladder against the house for easy access to the roof.
- Disconnect any automatic garage door openers so that doors can still be opened by hand if the power goes out. Close all garage doors.
- Turn on outside lights and leave a light on in every room to make the house more visible in heavy smoke.