Wildfires are burning more acres of land every year, but for many of us, preparing for summer wildfire season is still a concept we're getting used to. If it's your first time preparing for the possibility of a fire, we wanted to offer some advice. We looked through dozens of wildfire response guides, and distilled down a handful of common best practices for our readers. By following some basic wildfire safety procedures, you substantially decrease your physical risk, while also making it easier to recover any property that might be otherwise lost.
Take Pictures Of Your Valuables
Spend a few minutes photographing your most valuable possessions, especially ones that are not easily carried like furniture and fragile pieces. This will reduce the risk of potential insurance hassles by reducing the likelihood that the insurance company will question your claims. After taking the pictures, upload them to a cloud-based service like Google drive, Amazon Photos, or Dropbox, so you won't risk losing them if the device itself is lost.
Buy A Particulate Mask
Whether you plan on staying on your property to fight the fire, or you're the cautious type who evacuates early, it's vital to protect your lungs from wildfire smoke. The smoke from a large fire can travel dozens or even hundreds of miles from the source of the combustion, so we consider a pm2.5 mask max an important part of wildfire prep. Choose one that has two straps and an adjustable nose piece for effective coverage.
Keep Your Car Fueled
Another tip is to make sure that your vehicle has sufficient fuel in case it’s time for you to evacuate. Whether your car runs on a battery or gasoline, start topping it up if a Fire Weather Watch or Red Flag Warning is issued for your area. Back your vehicle into the driveway when you park, with the windows and doors closed. Hang your car keys somewhere visible... putting them in a new place during wildfire season can also help remind you to keep it gassed or charged.
Keep Your Important Documents In One Place
You might have just a few minutes to evacuate, and that is no time to be running around searching for important documents. Thus, before the disaster happens, sort your important documents like deeds, birth certificates, and licenses. Make copies, and put the original in a bag for grab-and-go convenience when you evacuate. Store the photocopies in a lock box, which can serve as a backup in case the originals are lost in transit.
For someone experiencing a wildfire threat for the first time, the most important thing to take note is their unpredictability. This makes taking early preventive measures like these especially important. If you're looking for more preparation resources, print out a copy of our Wildfire Preparedness Checklist and our In-home Wildfire Preparation Guide .