How to Prepare for a Wildfire: Envista's Wildfire Evacuation Checklist

November 14, 2018 CAT-wildfire2.jpg


Wildfires can be terrifying for all those involved, but to be trapped in one or caught trying to evacuate with thousands of others, it can be downright frightening.

Every year, wildfires consume at least 4 to 5 million acres, and in recent years, that number has risen to nearly 9 million. Today, in the U.S., most fires typically affect residents and wildlife that reside in highly forested areas such as California, followed by other wildfire-prone states like Georgia, Texas and Colorado.

When it comes to wildfires, no one is safe, but you can take the necessary safety precautions and consider the following:

  1. It is essential to evacuate as soon as first responders and fire officials tell to you to do so. Residents should never wait, as wildfires spread extremely fast. Wildfires can travel faster than you can run, and sometimes faster than you can drive. You may only have one opportunity to evacuate safely.
  2. Never assume you have enough time. In an active wildfire, conditions can worsen and/or drastically change in seconds, not minutes or hours.
  3. When it comes to your evacuation route, stick to the main roads if possible, and have a back-up evacuation route in mind. Know the area, and how to get out if the main road is blocked. If you live in an area prone to wildfires, pre-plan at least two evacuation routes away from your property.
  4. Before you leave your home, make sure all windows and doors are closed.
  5. If all roads are blocked, seek shelter in a structure where you can wait until the main body of the fire has passed.
  6. If you find yourself directly in the line of the fire, stay by an exterior door and attempt to exit the structure on the side facing away from the majority of the fire. If the structure is not on fire, stay where you are until it is safe outside. Wildfires are usually fast moving and the longer you can remain safely inside a structure the better chances you will have of surviving once you leave the structure.
  7. Does your property have an in-ground pool? If so, pools can be a final area of refuge if the fire is directly bearing down on your property area. Keep as much of your body submerged and stay close to the edge to deflect heat. If need be, take deep breaths and submerge under the water as long as possible, repeating until the fire intensity has passed.

 About the Author

Mike Driscoll, CFI- Mike Driscoll is the Senior Vice President for Envista Forensics’ Fire & Explosion Division. Mike has over three decades of experience conducting complex fire investigations. He has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Fire Science from the University of New Haven.

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