SEATTLE, Wash. -- The Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is monitoring a spate of wildfires across the Pacific Northwest and encouraging residents in potentially impacted areas to stay informed on local conditions. In addition to urging compliance with burn bans and exercising extreme caution with campfires, grills and other heat sources, FEMA Regional Administrator Ken Murphy encourages all who live on wooded lots and within woodland/urban interface areas to stay in the loop with local emergency management officials and pay close attention to developing fire hazards.
"Extended warm weather has left underbrush tender-dry, allowing fire to start and spread quickly," said Murphy. "People living on wooded lots and wildland/urban interface areas take must take action now to protect their homes and properties. Stay in the loop, follow developments, and evacuate if instructed to do so."
FEMA recommends that residents take specific action before an evacuation is necessary. Residents should clear flammable materials from around the home to create a 30 to 100 foot safety zone, keep roofs and gutters clear of pine needles and debris and ensure that house numbers are visible from access roads.
If wildfires approach:
- Stay tuned to local radio, television or social media alerts for updates on status and evacuations.
- Close all doors inside your home to prevent drafts.
- Open the damper on your fireplace but close the fireplace screen.
- Wet roofs and shrubs within 15 feet of your home.
- Turn on inside and outside lights to increase visibility through smoke.
- Turn off gas and pilot lights.
- Notify relatives and local officials when you have left your home and where you can be reached.
Another important step that FEMA recommends is preparing an evacuation kit. Items should be put in a container that can be easily loaded into a vehicle for quick departure. Items to include:
- Battery-powered radio and flashlights with additional batteries
- First aid kit, medicines, prescriptions and eye glasses
- Water (at least one gallon per person and enough for three days for each person in the household)
- Change of clothing
- Sleeping bags and pillows
- Cash and credit cards
It is a good idea to have important personal documents quickly available should you need to evacuate. Consider collecting your driver’s license, passport and other identification, birth and marriage certificates, Social Security card, insurance policies, tax records, wills, deed or lease and stocks and bonds. Also, know where your main turn-off switches are for electricity, water and gas.
FEMA also recommends that family members discuss how to contact one another if the wildfire comes near when family members are separated. Discuss evacuation routes and relatives or friends outside the immediate area that can be contacted. Finally, make sure your pets have collars and identification tags and take your pets with you if you need to evacuate.
FEMA's Resolve to be Ready in 2011 campaign promotes Whole Community involvement in disaster preparedness. For more information on protecting your family and your home from wildfires, go to: www.usfa.fema.gov, www.firewise.org, or www.fema.gov. For more information on the Ready Campaign and Citizen Corps, visit www.fema.gov, Read...