Outdoor Fire Safety

Outdoor Fires

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Every year an average of five million acres of forests burn. The fires cost $1 billion to extinguish and causes deaths of at least 3,000. Fires are started from natural sources, such as lightning or by humans, such as campfires or cigarettes.

If a fire nears your house, you should evacuate and not ignore official alerts. Hot flying embers can travel miles from forest fires.

If you are in a forest or brush area during a period of low rainfall, know where the rivers, lakes, or ravines are and stay in close proximity of these. Flames can burn at speeds of 80 mph.

If you are in a forest or brush area and you smell smoke, immediately move to a safe area. Fire burns more rapidly in an upward direction, so don’t try and move to high ground. You want to evacuate to low-lying areas, waterways, or roads.

Survival Checklist

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  • Be familiar with fire-hazard conditions
  • Evacuate well in advance of a fire. If you live in a high-fire hazard area, you should already have stuff packed and ready to go.
  • If within smoke range, wear respirator or put am moistened cloth over your nose and mouth.
  • In a wildfire or forest fire, head to low ground. Get to ravines, lakes, rivers, or ditches.
  • If you are in a vehicle, wait two to three minutes to see if the flames pass, if not you may have a better chance of going to the direction from which the fire approached.
  • If you have to cross a fire, put water all over clothing, remove jewelry, and cover your head with moistened blankets.
  • If your clothes catch fire, roll onto ground to extinguish fire-stop, drop, and roll.

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Guidelines to help you prepare for fire safety, evacuation, and home defense:

  • Thin tree and brush cover.
  • Dispose of slash and debris left from thinning.
  • Remove dead limbs, leaves and other litter.
  • Stack firewood away from home.
  • Mow dry grasses and weeds.
  • Trim branches.
  • Clean roof and gutters.
  • Remove branches overhanging chimney and roof.
  • Use noncombustible roof materials.
  • Place shutters, fire curtains or heavy drapes on windows.
  • Use a chimney screen or spark arrester.
  • Clear vegetation around fire hydrants, cisterns, propane tanks, etc.
  • Make sure an outdoor water supply is available, with hose, nozzle and pump.
  • Make sure that fire tools, ladder and fire extinguishers are available.
  • Post address signs that are clearly visible from the street or road.
  • Make sure the driveway is wide enough for fire trucks and equipment.
  • Install and test smoke detectors.
  • Practice a family fire drill and evacuation plan. 

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Like mentioned before you want to have a bag already prepared in case you need to evacuate quickly. Some things you may want to have in the bag include:

  1. A supply of drinking water.
  2. One change of clothing and footwear for each member of the family.
  3. A blanket or sleeping bag for each person.
  4. A first aid kit that also includes any prescription medications.
  5. Emergency tools including a battery-powered radio, flashlight and extra batteries.
  6. An extra set of car keys and credit cards, cash or traveler’s checks.
  7. Extra pairs of eyeglasses and other special items for infant, elderly or disabled family members.

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Courtley, C. (2012). SEAL survival guide: A Navy SEAL’s secrets to surviving any disaster. New York: Gallery Books.

Forest Home Fire Safety. (n.d.). Retrieved October 28, 2014.

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