Get Ready for Wildfires
More and more people are making their homes in wooded settings near forests and remote mountains sites. There, homeowners enjoy the beauty of the environment, but face the very real danger of wildfires. They spread quickly and change direction rapidly, igniting brush, trees and homes.
- A wildfire may happen when family members are in different places, so create a family communications plan.
- Make a Ready kit for at least three days of self-sufficiency and prepare a portable Ready kit in case you have to evacuate.
- Plan ahead for your pets. Shelters cannot accept pets due to health reasons, so it’s important to find a pet-friendly hotel or make arrangements with family or friends in advance.
- Plan several escape routes away from your home, by car and by foot.
- Learn and teach safe fire practices.
- Learn your risk. In Georgia, the fire season is during the dry and windy months of February through May.
- Learn about the history of wildfire in your area. For more information about wildfire in Georgia, visit the Georgia Forestry Commission’s website.
- Be aware of recent weather. A long period without rain increases the risk of wildfire.
- Use fire-resistant materials when building, renovating or retrofitting structures.
- Keep leaves and needles off your roof and deck, and clean gutters regularly.
- Design and landscape your home with wildfire safety in mind and create a 30 to 100 ft. safety zone around your home by keeping flammable vegetation in this area to a minimum.
- Trim branches that overhang structures and prune branches of large trees within 15 ft. from the ground.
- Thin a 15-ft. space between tree crowns.
- Remove debris from under decks and porches.
- Clear combustible material within 20 ft. of your home.
- Install spark arrestors in chimneys and stovepipes that meet the requirements of National Fire Protection Association Standard 211. (Contact your local fire department for exact specifications.)
- Identify and maintain an adequate outside water source, such as a pool or small pond.
- Have a garden hose that is long enough to reach any area of the home and other structures on the property.
- Keep handy household items that can be used as fire tools: A rake, axe, handsaw or chainsaw, bucket and shovel.
Visit www.firewise.org for more information on how to prepare your home for a wildfire.
- Follow the instructions of local officials. If advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
- Monitor radio, NOAA Weather Radio or television for the latest updates.
- Close all doors and windows, but don’t lock them.
- Open or take down flammable curtains and close blinds and other non-flammable window coverings.
- Move flammable furniture into the center of the residence away from the windows and sliding-glass doors.
- Turn off air conditioning and close all vents.
- Fill any pools, hot tubs, garbage cans, tubs or other large containers with water.
- Prop a ladder against the house for easy access to the roof.
- Disconnect any automatic garage door openers so that doors can still be opened by hand if the power goes out. Close all garage doors.
- Turn on outside lights and leave a light on in every room to make the house more visible in heavy smoke.