Preventing and Preparing for Wildfires
Wildfires can voraciously destroy homes, equipment, and property and even take the lives of the professionals who are on the front lines battling the blaze to save families and homes. Vera Water and Power encourages you to learn about prevention and prepare for dangers related to wildfires.
Whether you are burning debris, running equipment, or tending a campfire—always make sure fire, sparks, and embers are contained and safely extinguished.
A fire that gets near power lines can create additional hazards.
Vera Water and Power offers these 3 tips:
- If you see downed power lines or other damaged electrical equipment, call Vera at 888-774-8272 as soon as possible because the lines could still be live and present a fire risk.
- Downed power lines, stray wires, and debris in contact with them all have the potential to deliver a fatal shock. Stay clear of fallen power lines and damaged areas that could hide hazards.
- Contact Vera Water and Power immediately if you see fire near transmission or distribution lines.
If a wildfire is threatening your area, stay tuned to local media for reports and evacuation information. Smoke limits visibility, and evacuation routes can be cut off by fire, traffic, or fallen trees or power lines. Follow the instructions of local officials. If you are ordered to evacuate—do so.
If you have enough time, turn off the electricity, water, gas, and propane tanks as well as any other bottled gas you may have before evacuation. In addition, disconnect appliances and electronics to reduce the chance of electrical shock when power is restored.
With plenty of advance time and planning, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers steps you can take to reduce your home’s exposure to flames and radiant heat—both outside and in. A full list can be found on FEMA’s preparedness website, www.ready.gov. A few of these steps include:
- Cleaning roof and gutters; raking leaves and twigs; and clearing all flammable vegetation.
- Asking your electric utility to clear branches from power lines.
- Removing tree limbs within 15 feet of the ground.
It is also recommended that you limit the flammable vegetation and material around your home for at least 30 feet on all sides. The Spokane Conservation District offers the FireWise program, http://www.sccd.org/programs/firewise, to learn more about defensible space and to prevent catastrophic wildfire damage to home and property.
Both FEMA and Vera Water and Power also encourage everyone to create a portable disaster preparedness kit with enough supplies to last at least three days. This kit should include such items as water, food, blankets, pillows, clothes, a first aid kit, medicines, toiletries, flashlights, batteries, and a radio.