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Protecting You and Your Rental Property - A Guide to Wildfire Season Preparedness
Safeguarding both your household vacation property and loved ones from the threat of wildfires requires a thorough grasp of the specific risks linked to your community, geography, and region. Take proactive measures to educate yourself and your household members, equipping yourselves with the knowledge needed to respond effectively should a wildfire become a possibility in your area.
Before a Wildfire Strikes
To protect your residence or vacation rental from potential fire hazards, take preventive measures if you’re staying in a high-risk zone such as a forest. Remove any dried-out branches, leaves, and debris in and around your property. Keep a functional sprinkler system in an easily reachable location. Ensure that smoke alarms are installed on every level of your temporary residence, including each bedroom. Test these detectors monthly and replace batteries every six months. It is also advisable to consult with your local fire department to explore options for making your cottage fire-resistant. For individuals staying on farms or ranches, it is preferable to leave livestock unsheltered, as wildfires can trap animals inside. If time and personal safety permits, consider evacuating animals away from the danger zone.
Other considerations include learning how to turn off the utilities in your residence as instructed by local authorities and ensuring your vehicle has enough fuel. If evacuation becomes necessary, stopping for gas may be difficult, so consider purchasing additional gas cans depending on your region and the potential distance you may need to drive. Display a HELP sign in your window if you require assistance, and check on elderly relatives and neighbors to offer any necessary aid. Don’t forget to include pets and/or service animals in your evacuation plans.
During a Wildfire
Closely monitor its progress through various sources such as radio, television, or local social media accounts to receive warnings and information from authorities and emergency officials coordinating evacuation plans. If an evacuation order is issued or you must leave your rental, be sure to gather your emergency kit and essential items. If you feel comfortable doing so, leave a visible message indicating your whereabouts and contact information. Keep all doors and windows closed in your property and leave lights on to enhance visibility in case smoke fills the house. Be cautious of downed power lines, maintaining a minimum distance of 10 yards to avoid the risk of electrocution. Do not attempt to drive through areas affected by downed power lines or directly through a wildfire. When a wildfire approaches your community, report it immediately by dialing 911 if safe to do so. Take appropriate action by closing all windows and doors, covering vents, windows, and other openings with duct tape and/or precut pieces of plywood. Park your car facing forward out of the driveway with windows closed. Pack your emergency kit(s) and valuable items in the car, preparing for possible evacuation. Turn off propane and/or natural gas and move barbecues away from structures. Keep lights on in the porch, garage, and yard to aid visibility. Place a ladder against the front of the house to assist firefighters and move all combustible materials, including firewood and lawn furniture, away from the residence. Stay informed through local social media accounts and radio stations for up-to-date information on the fire and any potential road closures.
After a Wildfire
Maintain a calm demeanor despite challenging conditions that may hinder walking or driving. Be cautious of downed power lines and avoid them at a safe distance to prevent injury. Do not attempt to drive through areas with downed power lines. Stay tuned to the radio, television, or local social media accounts for information and instructions from authorities and emergency officials. Prioritize phone calls only for situations where someone's life is in danger or immediate emergency assistance is required, utilizing alternative communication methods otherwise.
When it comes to returning to your rental residence after the evacuation, it is vital to adhere to evacuation orders and remain outside the evacuation zone until authorities confirm it is safe to return. Collaborate with local authorities and professional engineers to assess the structural safety of your vacation rental. Only re-enter your residence when authorities have deemed it structurally safe to do so.
By following these guidelines and being proactive in your preparedness efforts, you can significantly increase your chances of effectively dealing with a wildfire situation. Remember, preparedness and vigilance are key to protecting yourself, your loved ones, and your property during such emergencies. Stay informed, have a plan in place, and act when necessary to ensure your safety and the well-being of your community.