Fire Preparedness Tips and Prevention

As we head into another potential summer fire season, there is always a real threat of wildfires. It’s time to think about preparedness in the event of a wildfire.

Prevention can go a long way to help reduce the number of wildfires in Alaska. Lightning, fireworks, and unattended camp fires may immediately come to mind as causes for wildfires, but according to the Alaska Division of Forestry, “Debris burning and the use of burn barrels are the leading cause of wildland fires in Alaska.”

Always be sure to fully extinguish controlled fires.

Whether it’s a fireplace, burn barrel, camp fire, or fire pit, all fires need to by completely extinguished.

  • Spray down the fire area before starting an outdoor fire and never leave a fire unattended.
  • Check with  your local fire department about whether a permit is needed. The Alaska Fire Information website is a good source for permit and other fire-related information.

Eliminate objects that can catch on fire.

Think of a wildfire as “raining burning embers.” We see the wall of flames, but it’s the burning embers that the wind can spread near and far.

  • Keep a clearance or defensible space of 30 feet around your home.
  • Clear any combustibles such as wood piles, spare lumber, boats, and vehicles anything that can act as fuel. In the event of a nearby fire, protect your roof.
  • Store potted plants, deck and lawn furniture as these objects can be ember catchers.
  • When landscaping, think about wood chips and mulch up against the foundation of your home. These materials could act as kindling for the flying embers. 
  • Keep embers from getting into your home so check eaves and vents are covered with a screen of 1/8 inch mesh. Keep gutters clean from leaves and other debris where embers could land.

Have an evacuation plan.  

Planning for a wildfire will give you an advantage should you ever be faced with an evacuation order. Have a plan in place because in fast moving wildfires you may only have minutes to escape.

  • Have good access to your property so fire fighters can get equipment there.
  • If you do find yourself in a potential evacuation zone, have your bag packed with things you’ll need for your family, human and pets, like medications, important documents, etc.
  • Do you have carriers to transport your pets? Airline kennels come in various sizes and will keep your pets safe in a car and at your temporary lodging until you can return home.

For more information about staying safe from wildfires, the US Center for Disease Control has information about preparedness, staying safe during and after a wildfire and other resources.