29 July 2009
Contact: Mike Howard (425) 487-4610
Press Release No.: 09-71News Release
WHEN WILDFIRES RAGE: PREPARE, STAY INFORMED AND EVACUATE IF DIRECTED
SEATTLE –Sustained record-breaking temperatures have raised wildfire hazards throughout the Pacific Northwest. With wildfires burning in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington state, FEMA Acting Regional Administrator Dennis Hunsinger encourages at-risk residents to prepare for the worst, stay informed on local conditions and evacuate if instructed to by fire or emergency management officials.
“Fires can start and spread quickly, and it is essential that people living on wooded lots or wildland/urban interface areas take action now to protect their homes and properties,” said Hunsinger. “The time to discuss wildfire warnings and evacuation strategies with your local forestry and emergency management officials is before wildfires rage. Stay in the loop, follow developments, and evacuate if instructed to.”
FEMA recommends that residents take specific action before an evacuation is necessary, clearing flammable materials from around the home, keeping roofs and gutters clear of pine needles and debris and ensuring that house numbers are visible and driveways allow access to firefighting vehicles.
Another important step that FEMA recommends is preparing an evacuation kit. Items should be put in a container that can be easily loaded into a vehicle for a quick departure. Items to include:
Battery-powered radio with additional batteries
First aid kit
Medicines, prescriptions and eye glasses
Water (at least one gallon per person and enough for three days for each person in the household)
Change of clothing
Sleeping bags and pillows
Cash and credit cards
It is also smart to keep important personal documents quickly available should you need to evacuate. Consider collecting your driver’s license, passport and other identification, birth and marriage certificates, Social Security card, insurance policies, tax records, wills, deed or lease and stocks and bonds. Also, know where your main turn-off switches are for electricity, water and gas.
FEMA also recommends that family members discuss how to contact one another if the wildfire comes near when family members are separated. Discuss evacuation routes and identify relatives or friends outside the immediate area that can be contacted. Finally, make sure your pets have collars and identification tags and take your pets with you if you need to evacuate. While some shelters won’t accept pets, an increasing number of communities are organizing pet shelters when large evacuations are necessary. Check with your local Humane Society, animal shelter or veterinarian.
For more information on protecting your family and your home from wildfires, go to http://www.fema.gov/, or http://www.ready.gov/.
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.