Be prepared for wildfire emergencies

Oakhurst Staff Photo

In an effort to help Mountain Area residents prepare in case of a wildfire, Cal Fires offers the following guidelines on what to do before, during and after a fire:

What to do before a wildland fire

* Create defensible space to separate your home from flammable vegetation and materials (minimum of 100 feet clearance).

* Adhere to all local fire and building codes and weed abatement ordinances.

* Keep all trees and shrub limbs trimmed so they do not come into contact with electrical wires or overhang your chimney. Do not trim around live power lines yourself, call a professional.

* Prune all lower branches eight feet from the ground.

* Keep trees adjacent to buildings free of dead or dying branches.

* Stack firewood away from your home and other buildings. Keep clearance around your piles.

* Keep roof surfaces clear of pine needles, leaves and debris at all times.

* Install spark arrestors for each chimney.

* Clean chimneys and check and maintain spark arrestors twice a year.

* Keep rain gutters clear of debris at all times.

* Use approved fire resistant materials when building, renovating or retrofitting structures.

* Install electrical lines underground, if possible.

* Be sure your house numbers show clearly from the street, both day and night.

* Store combustible or flammable materials in approved containers.

* Store all important papers in a fireproof container or keep copies at another location.

* Make evacuation plans with family members. Include several options with an outside meeting place and contact person. Practice regularly.

* Keep battery-operated radios and flashlights with additional fresh batteries on hand.

What to do during a wildland fire

* Turn on a battery-operated radio to get latest emergency information.

* If you have a ladder, prop it against the house so you and firefighters have access to roof.

* If hoses and adequate water are available, set them up. Fill buckets with water.

* Remove combustible materials from the area surrounding your house (lawnchairs, tables, etc.).

* Turn a light on in each room for visibility in case of smoke.

* Close all doors and windows, but do not lock them.

* Open or take down flammable drape and curtains.

* Close all venetian blinds and non-flammable window coverings.

* Move upholstered furniture away from windows and sliding glass doors.

* Be ready to evacuate all family members and pets when requested to do so.

* Turn off air conditioning and air circulation systems.

* Detach electrical garage doors. Back in your car and leave the keys in the ignition.

* Secure your pets if possible.

What to do after a wildland fire

* Check with fire officials before attempting to return to your home.

* Use caution when reentering a burned area - flare-ups can occur.

* Check grounds for hot spots, smoldering stumps, and vegetation. Use your buckets of water.

* Check the roof and exterior areas for sparks and embers.

* Check the attic and throughout the house for hidden burning sparks and embers.

* Continue to check for problem areas for several days.

* Contact 911 if any danger is perceived.

* If burning outside your home was extensive, watch for soil erosion.

* Consult local experts on the best way to restore and replant your land with fire-safe landscaping.

Staff Report