Across the country, injuries and deaths are increasing during wildland fire evacuations. The purpose of this guide is to allow residents to act responsibly and safely in the event of a wildland fire.
PLAN: Planning is key to surviving wildfire. Start today by making sure you have the following plan in place:
- Create at least 30 feet of defensible space around your home.
- Make a list of your 5Ps. Keep it handy and practice gathering them. (People, Pets, Pills, Photos, important Papers)
- Prepare a 72-Hour kit:
- Flashlight with plenty of extra batteries.
- First aid kit, prescription medications, eyeglasses, all essential equipment and devices for infants/elderly residents.
- Water (at least one gallon per person), and food that does not require refrigeration or cooking.
- Sleeping bag and clothing for each family member.
- Important documents such as proof of residence, insurance policies, birth certificates, prescriptions, wills, and deeds.
- This guide and your 5Ps (listed above).
- Educate yourself and your family about wildfire and evacuation procedures.
- Identify and learn alternate ways out of your neighborhood.
- Know the evacuation plans for your family members in school, assisted living and childcare facilities.
- Designate an out-of-area contact through whom family members can relay information. Make sure your whole family has that person’s phone number.
- Plan how you will transport your pets.
- Keep the car fuel tank at least half full during wildfire season.
PREP: Go Early! During an evacuation, roads become congested with vehicles, dust and smoke, making evacuation a slow process. Long before evacuation seems likely, PREPARE and GO!
- Take a deep breath and remember your plan. Life safety always takes priority over property.
- Face your car toward the street and close all windows. Keep the keys handy.
- Load your 5Ps and 72-Hour Kit into the car.
- Wear clothes to shield you from heat, embers and flames: sturdy shoes, long-sleeved shirt and pants (wool or cotton), hat, handkerchief, and light colored goggles.
- As you leave, post a visible form of notification that identifies that you have evacuated.
- Write EVACUATED on a pillow case and hang it at the end of your driveway.
ONLY IF THERE’S TIME – Prepare your home:
- Close all windows and doors (inside and outside).
- Close window blinds.
- Remove curtains from windows.
- Leave exterior and interior lights on.
- Remove combustibles (patio furniture, firewood, etc.) within 30 feet of your home.
- Remove vegetation that touches any part of the home where combustible building
materials are used (wood siding, shake roof, wood decking, wood fence, etc).
- Place metal (not wooden) ladder against side of house.
- Shut off natural gas and propane.
GO: Don’t Wait! If you feel threatened, GO! In some cases, there is no time for formal evacuation notification due to quickly changing conditions and you may need to make this decision yourself.
- Tune into a local radio station and listen for instructions.
- Obey orders of law enforcement and fi re department officials.
- Follow the emergency instructions regarding evacuation routes. Your normal route may
not be the safest.
- Drive with your headlights on for visibility and safety.
- Drive calmly, obey the rules of the road and pay special attention to fire trucks.
- Do not block access to roadways for emergency vehicles or other evacuees. Do not
abandon vehicles on the roadway. Do not stop to let pets have a break.
- If you are caught by fire while evacuating, see the “Emergency” section below.
- Check in at an emergency shelter. Whether you stay there or not, your checking in will help others know that you are safe.
- Take pets to a Pet Evacuation Center if available.
- Do not attempt to re-enter the fire area until it is declared safe by Law Enforcement.
- 9-1-1 is for emergencies only
- For road information: Dial 9-1-1 or ask Law Enforcement Officers or Firefighters in the area.
- For general information: Stay tuned to local news radio and television stations.
- If you’re unsure whether or not to evacuate: Be safe, not sorry, EVACUATE.
EMERGENCIES: If you are caught.
CAUGHT INSIDE AN AUTOMOBILE:
- Move your vehicle to bare ground or areas where vegetation is sparse. Face the wind andclose all doors, vents and windows.
- Turn engine off, leave lights on.
- Lie on the floor and cover yourself with a jacket or blanket. Th e fuel tank of the car will normally not explode.
- Stay calm and remain in your vehicle until aft er the flame front passes or until you are
forced out of your vehicle by toxic fumes.
- If you are forced out of your vehicle, cover with a wool blanket and lie flat under the vehicle.
CAUGHT ON FOOT, ALONG ROAD:
- Seek shelter: under bridges, in ditches, in rivers or lakes, on burned over areas, and on green grass flats.
- Lie face down along the road cut or the ditch on the uphill side (less vegetation and less
- Cover yourself with anything that will shield you from the heat of the fire.
CAUGHT ON FOOT, IN THE OPEN:
- Seek shelter where vegetation is sparse and find a depression in the ground (if possible).
- While the fi re is approaching, clear as much vegetation as you can and lie face down in the depression, covering yourself with anything that will shield you from the intense heat and toxic smoke.
CAUGHT AT HOME: “SHELTERING-IN-PLACE”:
- During some wildfire events, you may not be able to evacuate in time and you will be faced with no other option than to shelter-in-place. Careful planning and action on your part can help protect you during a wildfire.
- Sheltering-in-place is a LAST RESORT alternative if you cannot evacuate in time.
AS THE FIRE APPROACHES:
- Wear protective clothing to shield you from heat, embers and fl ames: sturdy shoes, long sleeved shirt and pants (wool or cotton), hat, handkerchief, and light colored goggles.
- Close windows and doors to the house to prevent sparks and embers from blowing inside. Close all doors inside the house to prevent draft. Open the damper on your fireplace to help stabilize outside-inside pressure, but close the fi replace screen so sparks will not ignite the room.
- Take down your drapes and curtains. Close all blinds.
- Fill all bathtubs, sinks and other containers with water.
- Back your car into the garage, keeping the windows closed and keys in the ignition. Close garage doors and disconnect the automatic garage door opener (so you can still remove your car in the event of a power failure).
- Place your 5Ps inside your car in the garage for quick departure, if necessary.
- Turn on lights in every room and porch lights.
- Turn off pilot lights.
- As the fi re front approaches, STAY INSIDE, take a deep breath and remain calm.
AFTER THE FIRE PASSES:
- Check the roof immediately. Extinguish any sparks or embers.
- Check inside the attic for hidden burning embers. Extinguish any fires.
- Over the next several hours continue monitoring your home for signs of smoke and embers.
- Contact the Non-Emergency Dispatch Center (435-615-3600) and notify authorities that you are still in your home.
SOME FACTS ABOUT SHELTERING-IN-PLACE YOU SHOULD KNOW:
- Sheltering-in-place is always a LAST RESORT alternative if you cannot evacuate in time.
- A fire within sight or smell is a threat.
- More people are injured and killed in the open than in houses.
- Once embers start falling, it may be too late to evacuate.
- Remember, no matter how hot it is inside your home, it is ALWAYS worse outside.
- Stay inside!
- You must have 30-100 feet of space around your home (defensible space) that is free of any combustible vegetation and materials that can spread fi re to your home.
SHELTERING-IN-PLACE EMERGENCY KIT ITEMS:
- Natural fabrics, such as heavy denim or pure wool
- Long sleeved shirt that covers neck and is tucked into pants
- Wool socks tucked over pant legs and sturdy boots with Vibram-type soles
- Thick canvas or leather gloves
- Thick, pure wool blanket, large enough to cover a person completely when crouched or lying down
- Smoke filtering mask made from cotton or wool (handkerchief)
- Goggles with side protection and a strap to wrap around the head
- Eye drops to prevent eyes from becoming dried out
- Plenty of drinking water
- First aid kit
- Battery operated radio
- Flashlight and plenty of extra batteries
- Fire extinguisher
- Shovels and rakes for putting out spot fires
- Metals buckets for water
Fire departments are responsible for determining when the need for evacuation exists and the Summit County Sheriff’s Office and Park City Police Department are responsible for carrying out an ordered evacuation.
During a major wildland fire, despite the best efforts of fire protection and law enforcement agencies, there still may not be enough equipment and manpower to go door-to-door advising you to evacuate; you should be ready to make this decision and GO! yourself.
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