Do you know what to do when wildfire threatens?
Ready Set Go is a national program that’s been around since 2011. It’s managed by the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and is designed to help local fire departments reach out to vulnerable communities on ways to prepare for wildfire. It works with the national Firewise USA®, as well as with local organizations such as Bighorn Basin Firesmart, to build awareness and help people in the wildland urban interface (WUI) adapt.
Information in this article is taken from the IAFC’s downloadable brochure available here. You can also download a Spanish version here.
The first step. It’s when you, the property owner, begins to prepare for wildfire.
The idea is to create a defensible space around buildings that will protect your home and outbuildings AND that will keep firefighters safer in the event of a wildfire.
Become familiar with the “ember zone” concept. This is the distance embers from a wildfire can travel and start new fires. In some instances, that zone can be up to a mile! Embers are very small and light and can get inside your home or buildings through window screens, vents, and other openings. They are the biggest reason homes catch fire in wildfires.
Be aware of any fire weather alerts from the National Weather Service. This includes Fire Weather Watches and Red Flag Warnings. We post those on our Facebook page for the Bighorn Basin but it’s a good idea to be aware of the weather in your area at all times.
Finally, create an action plan, including a checklist and evacuation plan. There is good information in that PDF and in our previous posts (links here).
Set: Prepare and Be Aware
Have your checklists and plans handy so when a wildfire threatens, you can leave quickly and ahead of imminent danger.
Some things to do in this stage include:
- Monitor weather conditions and fire status.
- Alert everyone in your household and your neighbors, who may not be as prepared.
- Put on appropriate clothing, including natural fiber clothing, particle masks or bandanas, work boots or sturdy shoes, and goggles.
- Have your Go Kit handy.
- Stay close to your house and monitor where everyone, including pets, are and make sure they are ready to leave. This is a good time to have pets in carriers or harnesses.
The PDF has inside and outside checklists, as well as information about what to do if you become trapped at home.
Go: Act Early
Leave as early as practicable. You will avoid traffic congestion and help firefighters and first responders. Follow all directions from local authorities.
Go to a predetermined area. If you have an evacuation plan with a meeting place for your family, go there. Make sure it’s out of danger and is easily accessible.
Have several travel routes planned in case the main route is blocked, either by traffic, emergency vehicles, or fire.
Don’t forget your Go Kit!