Urban Survival Guide – How to Survive a Wildfire

If you live in an area of the country that is known to have Wildfires (such as many parts of California), an emergency survival kit and plan will be necessary.  The United States is one of those rare countries that has an abundance of trees, foliage and green landscapes where the possibility for Wildfires is always present.  Even if you live in the Sunshine State of Florida, Wildfires have been known to break out at a moment’s notice.  Having an emergency survival kit and plan handy is definitely a good idea.

How to Prepare for a Wildfire

Wood is a very common material used in residential home construction in the United States. Unlike many other areas of the world where cement or concrete are more common, wood is cheap, abundant and locally available in most parts of the country.  This is especially true for homes that fall outside of the urban landscape and metropolitan cities, such as in places like forests, farming communities and mountain ranges where homeowners like to feel as close to nature as possible.   An emergency urban survival kit is critically important for residents of these areas.

Wood has a natural look of elegance and warmth that cannot be achieved through stone or concrete construction methods, but it also comes with a significant amount of risk during wildfires. Hundreds of homes are destroyed by wildfires every year in this country, and many of the residents were unprepared, not having a pre-made urban survival kit or plan at their disposal.

Many people are unaware that wildfires are very predictable and react in much the same way every time.  Firefighters know this and are diligent in their efforts to educate the community on the importance of an urban survival kit to prevent loss of life and property.  All it takes is a little bit of foresight and planning.  Once your plan is in place, have a short family meeting to make everyone aware of the emergency procedures that will need to occur in case of a wildfire.

Things to Do Before a Wildfire Hits

  • Prepare an evacuation plan for the house.  Decide what location will be the meeting destination in case family members become separated. Choose 2 locations, one should be within walking distance and the other should be out of town
  • Avoid having trees in the landscaping around your home, especially pine and eucalyptus.  The oils in these trees can burn violently.
  • Include fire tools in your emergency survival kit.  Include chain saws, axes, buckets, rakes, and shovels.
  • Create an escape plan for the upper floors of your home, should they catch on fire, perhaps by keeping a ladder within reach.  This is an essential part of any prepared urban survival plan.

Things to Do as a Wildfire is Approaching

  • Follow the evacuation plan and keep calm.  Do not panic.
  • Wear long sleeved clothes, cotton or wool, to protect your face and body from heat, hot ash and falling debris.
  • Shut off all gas appliances as well as the main gas valve to your home.  Remove as much of the flammable materials as possible from within the home, garage, basement and attic.  Check other on-property structures such as sheds and barns.