SERVPRO shares wildfire safety tips
Friday, August 27th 2021, 8:00 PM

SERVPRO: 6 safety tips to help homeowners sail through wildfires

Bee Cave, United States - August 27, 2021 / SERVPRO of Lakeway / Westlake /

Wildfire safety tips to follow 

In 2021, 37,803 fires have burned more than 3 million acres across the United States so far, as per NIFC (National Interagency Fire Center). Wildfires wreak havoc on life and property every year. SERVPRO with its disaster recovery team shares some safety tips against wildfires.

   1. Be aware

Wildfire refers to a large, unplanned blaze in a rural or forested area. These fires often spread during summer and fall due to high volumes of dried vegetation. Lightning, arson, discarded cigarettes, and spontaneous combustion are some of the common causes of wildfires. Open areas with abundant vegetation and a dry climate are at a higher risk of wildfires.

The danger of wildfire is heightened during prolonged periods of hot and dry weather.

   2. Be prepared

Preparation is imperative before the wildfire season arrives. There must be clear procedures, plans, and protocols within households and the neighborhood in anticipation of wildfires.

  1. Insurance: Homeowners in wildfire-prone areas must check if their policy covers wildfire damage and if not, they must invest in one. 
  2. Plan: An evacuation plan is an indispensable safety step. Due to the unpredictable nature of wildfires, multiple evacuation routes must be prepared. as the spread of fire can be unpredictable. This plan must be detailed to ensure there is minimum loss and discomfort. It may include:
  • Contact information of relevant people such as family members, workplace, schools, doctors, and utility companies.
  • Important documents such as birth certificates, social security cards, insurance policies, and photos of the property for insurance purposes.
  • Locations of temporary shelter with friends or acquaintances, local disaster center, hotels for long-term stays, and evacuation routes.
  • Investigation of potential hazards in local neighborhoods and nearby factories and farms. This information is important while deciding the evacuation route. 

  1. Pack an evacuation kit: A wildfire can arrive in minutes unexpectedly. In an emergency where homeowners may have to evacuate their homes, an evacuation kit must be ready and easily accessible. It can include items such as:
  • N95 masks to help filter out harmful, airborne particles 
  • Three days’ supply of clean, bottled water
  • Three days’ supply of dry or long-life food supplies
  • Blankets
  • Changes of clothes
  • The evacuation/wildfire plan
  • A portable radio
  • Flashlights
  • Mobile phone
  • First aid kit
  • Medications
  • Any pet supplies and carriers
  • Stay informed

 

  1. Stay informed


    Preparation is possible only when sufficient information is available. Listen to local news, sign up for the community warning system, and stay up to date with the Emergency Alert System (EAS) to know about any imminent dangers and evacuation announcements.

  2. Protect the house: Some simple steps can provide some protection to a house and increase the chances of its survival during a wildfire.
  1. Inside the house
  • Use Class A roofing material such as slate, or asphalt. 
  • Install Class B pressure-treated shingles or shakes. 
  • Procure a smoke alarm for every bedroom and in each zone of the house.
  • Maintain and test smoke alarms monthly and change their batteries annually. 
  • Consider fire sprinklers. 

 

  1. Outside the house - Create a defensible space around the house by following the below-mentioned guidelines.

Within 30 feet of the home

  • Remove combustible materials such as dried leaves and pine needles.
  • Chop down any tree limbs that are 15 feet or closer to the ground to prevent the fire from spreading into the property’s tree line.
  • Store any unused flammable lawn furniture.
  • Install a non-flammable decor, such as gravel.

Within 100 to 30 Feet of the house

  • Create “fuel breaks” such as gravel pathways or driveways in the property to halt the spread of a fire. 
  • Cut tree branches that are 8 feet or closer to the ground.
  • Clear combustible vegetation.

Within 200 to 100 feet of the house

  • Continue to clear combustible vegetation.
  • Plant trees far apart so their branches do not touch.

Designate water resources
In preparation for the wildfire, homeowners must ensure ample garden hose as well as water sources such as swimming pools, ponds, lakes, wells, and fire hydrants. Ensure that the fire department can access these if the need be. 

 

  1. Beware of the dangers

Fire: In case of an alert by the EAS of a wildfire, homeowners must evacuate at the earliest. In case of delay, homeowners must follow the below tips if the fire reaches the house.

  1. Cover face with a protective layer such as a mask or a damp cloth to limit smoke inhalation. 
  2. Keep low and head away from heavy smoke and fire. 
  3. Move against the wind as this is likely to be the opposite direction of the fire.
  4. If too close to the fire, avoid walking on embers and dampen clothes to prevent flames from catching.

Smoke: Smoke from a wildfire can spread over large distances. Therefore, homeowners may be at mercy of harmful smoke even before the fire reaches the area. Carbon Monoxide and toxic particles found in smoke may lead to nausea, light-headedness, chest pain, and, in extreme cases, suffocation. It can also cause damage to the lungs. 

  • Keep checking the EAS and local news for updates on the status of the smoke.
  • Endeavor to limit smoke inhalation by staying inside with doors and windows closed.
  • Wear N95 masks to filter out harmful smoke.

 

5. After the fire

Returning to a fire-damaged property is safe only if certified by an emergency service.  When returning home, it is advised to:

  • Wear proper protective attire. 
  • Stay vigilant for broken floorboards, shattered glass, and other hazards. 
  • Watch out for ash pits and hot spots. Even after a fire is extinguished, small fires can flare up without warning. 
  • Turn off utilities to avoid any risk of electric shock or gas leak. 
  • Assess the damage to the property and its contents
  • Contact insurance providers. 
  • Refrain from cleaning up until an insurance representative has arrived on site. 
  • Share with the adjuster an inventory of damaged items and/or photos of the property before the damage. This documentation is really helpful while estimating and settling the claim.

6. DIY salvage

Protective clothing when salvaging possessions after a fire is imperative. In case of limited damage, homeowners may be able to salvage the house and its content themselves, to some extent. Moving the damaged items out of the house and into the open air helps. However, fire, smoke, and water damage affect different materials in different ways. In case of structural damage, DIY is no longer an option. Therefore, before diving into a DIY restoration, homeowners must contact their insurance adjusters and ideally speak to a fire damage restoration service such as SERVPRO. 

 

A wildfire’s path cannot be changed but homeowners can follow the above safety tips to prevail through the wildfires. 

Why SERVPRO?

  • SERVPRO uses state-of-the-art equipment to bring the damaged property back to its original state. SERVPRO of Lakeway / Westlake is always updating its fleet and equipment so clients in Lakeway, West Lake Hills, or anywhere else can quickly access the services. 

  • With over 1,700 US and Canadian Franchise locations, SERVPRO is strategically positioned to respond faster to an emergency of any magnitude.

  • The SERVPRO staff is highly trained in property damage restoration. They receive initial in-house training and constant skill up-gradation at the corporate training facility and also acquire the regular IICRC-industry certification.

For fire damage restoration services, call SERVPRO of Lakeway / Westlake today at (512) 261-4790.

Contact Information:

SERVPRO of Lakeway / Westlake

12600 Hill Country Boulevard Suite R-275
Bee Cave, TX 78738
United States

Mike Praytor
https://www.servprolakewaywestlake.com/

Original Source: https://www.servprolakewaywestlake.com/blog/post/311370/fire-smoke-damage-restoration/servpro-6-safety-tips-to-help-homeowners-sail-through-wildfires

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SERVPRO® of Lakeway / Westlake has proudly been serving the Austin and Highland Lakes area for years. We know how stressful and disruptive water, mold, or fire damage can be. It is our goal to help you through every step of the process.

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Mike Praytor
SERVPRO of Lakeway / Westlake

12600 Hill Country Boulevard
Bee Cave, TX, 78738, United States

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