Living in a high-risk wildfire area comes with its fair share of challenges. For one, there’s the worry that the fire may spread to your home or cut you off from reaching a major city. Even with that thought being unlikely, there are still health risks associated with prolonged smoke inhalation.
If you recently moved to a high-risk area, be sure to keep the following essentials.
1. A Disaster Supply Kit
Create a disaster supply kit to store items. Use an airtight plastic bag or put your things in easy to carry duffel bags or plastic bins. Ensure they’re in a place that’s likely to stay safe from fires or easy to get to. For example, if you spend a lot of time in the living room, put a supply kit underneath your couch or in a nearby closet. Keep water, food, extra batteries, a whistle, dusk task, a manual can opener, a local map, a cell phone charger, and toiletries. There are other items you should keep in your supply kit that will be expanded on below.
2. Keep an Air Purifier
It’s difficult to remove smoke from your home when a fire is currently burning outside because opening a window will let in more smoke fumes. An air purifier can remove wildfire smoke from your home if it starts to creep in even with your windows closed. The best air purifiers have HEPA filters to reduce particle concentrations and are better at forcing air and trapping lousy air. Some air purifiers have multiple speed settings, while others are quiet and eco-friendly. Choose an air purifier that is appropriate for the size of your room or home to maximize its use.
3. First Aid Kit
A disaster supply kit will have the things you need during a fire specifically, but you should also prepare if someone gets hurt or requires emergency medical care. The Red Cross website has a perfectly comprehensive list of what should be found in your kit, like emergency blankets, adhesive tape, sterile gauze pads, and bandages. Some items will overlap, like a flashlight or extra batteries, but it never hurts to have more than one of those.
4. Battery Powered Hand-Crank Radio
A hand-crank radio is a must for any disaster kit because they help you stay informed of the spread of the wildfire or if help is on the way. The local news can also help you prepare for spreading wildfires by giving advice on how to protect your home, including lawn and roof, should the fires get worse. Choose a radio that doesn’t necessarily require a battery but has the option for one and can charge with solar power. It’s better to find a radio that can act as multiple disaster items at once, like a flashlight, cell phone charger, and an SOS flashing beacon.
5. Flashlight or Candles
A flashlight is an essential asset during a blackout and can help you get your bearings on your location and the quadrants of your neighbors. Shaking a flashlight around in the dark can tell emergency workers where you are, but it’s essential that you pick a flashlight that has a long-lasting battery or a hand-crank. Blackout alert lights are also helpful during times of crisis. To ensure you’re safe no matter where you are in the home, stash multiple small, keychain-sized flashlights in easy-to-reach locations so you can find one in the dark when a blackout occurs.
6. Plastic Sheeting and Duct Tape
Duct tape is a great tool to protect your home because it can seal gaps and small cracks that smoke could enter from. In extreme situations, duct tape can close whole rooms, but it’s best to stick to windows, doors, and air vents so you can break through and escape if needed. Use plastic sheeting to create a shelter around the windows, doors, or air vents for extra protection. You could also create a small dome of plastic around your family as an extra precaution.