With changing weather patterns, it’s important to ensure you, your family, and your home are prepared for whatever mother nature has in store. In recent years, we have seen an increase in forest fires throughout the country. Though there’s a fair bit homeowners can do in terms of prevention and protection, it’s also important to know what to do if an evacuation notice is issued.
There’s a forest fire in my community:
If you learn of a forest fire in close proximity to your home and you have enough warning before it gets too close, take these actions:
- Shut all of the windows and doors in your home.
- Take down curtains, and move furniture and other flammable materials away from windows.
- If possible, turn off HVAC, and other air-exchange units that bring air in from the outside.
- Turn off all propane or natural gas supplies at the main shut-offs. Move propane barbecues into the open, away from your home and nearby buildings.
- Pack a suitcase for you and your family with enough clothes and toiletries to last you a week. Don’t forget to gather important items, such as prescription medications, passports, drivers’ licenses, wedding rings, cell phones, and chargers in preparation.
- If you have pets, find accommodation that will allow them to stay with you if you need to leave home, or contact friends and family members outside of the evacuation zone for help.
- If you haven’t done so already, take photos or videos of your home and belongings, which can help in the event of a claim.
Listen to the radio for updates and follow all emergency service instructions.
Wildfire evacuation notice has been given:
- Keep the lights on to increase visibility in the event your home fills with smoke.
- When you need to leave, quickly gather all family members and pets and head to the meeting place listed in your emergency preparedness plan, or as instructed by official emergency services. Follow the directions of local authorities and all evacuation orders.
- Smoke is the cause of the majority of fire-related deaths. Ensure all family members cover their mouths and noses and breathe through a damp cloth to avoid smoke inhalation.
- Protect exposed skin. Consider wearing natural fibers such as wool or cotton. Synthetic fabrics are more flammable.
- Keep copies of your receipts from purchases and any accommodation spending made during the evacuation, to submit in the event of a claim.
After the fire has passed:
- Return to your home only when emergency authorities have advised it is safe to do so.
- When you return, thoroughly check your home for hazards and do not handle dangerous materials.
- When it comes to your utilities, do not try to restore them yourself. The authorities in your community will make sure they are either safe to use or disconnect them.
- If you left your car during the evacuation and there has been damage to it, do not try to start or move it.
- In the event your home or auto is damaged by the fire, please contact your insurance company to submit a claim and discuss next steps.
When you receive an evacuation notice for any type of weather related incident, it can be tempting to want to stay and protect your home and possessions but it’s crucial to remember that keeping yourself, your family, and your pets safe is the most important thing.