The Alberta Wildfire continues to rage around Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada, and fire conditions remain “extreme,” according to Alberta government officials.
However, the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB) has announced that immediate life safety concerns have primarily been addressed, since the evacuation of approximately 80,000 residents. Even so, responders from Fort McMurray and across Canada continue to work 24 hours a day to protect the municipality from the out-of-control wildfire, in hopes that the evacuees may soon be able to safely return to their homes.
Currently, only emergency responders are allowed entrance to the evacuated areas. According to the RMWB, “Smoldering hot spots, hazardous materials and downed power lines are some of the dangers that can still be found throughout the town, which makes access to any parts of the evacuated zone dangerous.”
If you reside in an area that is prone to wildfires, what proactive steps can you take to ensure safety for you and your family, and protection for your home and property?
The US Fire Administration, in cooperation with FEMA, suggests that you create an emergency bag of personal items you will need if asked to evacuate. In doing so, remember the “5 P’s”: People and pets; papers, phone numbers and important documents; prescriptions and eyeglasses; pictures and irreplaceable memorabilia; plastic (credit/debit cards) and cash.
Okay, so you’re expecting the evacuation order any day now. How do you protect your home in your absence?
Once evacuation is imminent, your goal is to make your home and the surrounding area more resistant to catching fire and burning. This means reducing the amount of material that can burn easily in and around your home by clearing away debris and other flammable materials.
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has compiled a brochure titled, “Wildfire Is Coming, Are you Ready to Go?” which can be downloaded from their website, readyforwildfire.org. This helpful brochure provides all the information you will need to protect your home and family before, during and after a wildfire-related evacuation. Being ready to go means knowing when to evacuate and what to do if you become trapped.
During the ever-so-important pre-evacuation phase, the California guide suggests the following:
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Shut all windows and doors, leaving them unlocked.
Using a fire-retardant foam or gel, like the Frontline Wildfire Defense System, to extinguish embers and burning wood, can significantly mitigate loss to wildfire. In the event of emergency evacuation, the system can even be activated remotely.
All things considered, planning ahead is your best defense against possible wildfire loss to your home and property. If there’s anything we’ve learned from the Alberta wildfire its this: Prepare for the worst…you’ll be glad you did.