As the situation surrounding the Three Rivers Fire develops around Ruidoso, New Mexico, learning the essentials to wildfire season can help keep you prepared.
In addition to monitoring air quality index, you may need certain supplies to get through the season. If you live in a burn zone and evacuation is a possibility, you may need to assemble an emergency essentials kit as well.
For those that live in the Ski Apache or the South Fork Bonito areas, evacuation orders may already be in place — check nmfireinfo.com for the latest developments.
To help you be as prepared as possible for wildfire season, shop for necessary items before it begins. This wildfire season checklist, guided by Ready.gov, can point you in the right direction.
How to prepare for wildfire season
According to Ready.gov, it’s critical that you’re connected to receive alerts and warnings for your area:
- In addition to downloading the FEMA app, sign up for local alerts.
- Monitor the AQI in your area with Air Now.
- Purchase an emergency radio; ideally an NOAA radio.
Make an emergency plan
Establish an emergency plan in anticipation of wildfire season. Here’s what you should do:
- Prepare your home and property.
- Prepare household members and pets.
- Assemble an evacuation kit.
Note that some of the items shared in this guide are intended for households that shelter in place. Other recommendations are intended for households that may need to evacuate if they’re in burn zones.
Prepare your home and property
Harden your home
It’s recommended to harden your home for better protection during wildfire season:
- If you’re building or remodeling, use fire-resistant building materials.
- Close all doors, windows and vents to prevent contaminated air from entering your home. If necessary, install draft guards on doors for additional door protection.
- Create fire-resistant or defensible zones around your home. Certain cities or counties may have official requirements on managing these zones.
- Perform regular inspections and cleanings of your property, including chimney inspections, dead bush or tree removals and gutter cleanings.
- Maintain an outside water source and purchase a garden hose that reaches throughout your home and around your property.
Outfit your home with safety devices
There are a few safety devices you should have in your home year-round, and especially during wildfire season:
- Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on every level of the home and inside every bedroom. Test them regularly to make sure they’re functioning properly.
- Use air purifiers to preserve indoor air quality.
- A smart air quality monitor can help you monitor indoor air quality.
- Make sure fire extinguishers are placed in accessible areas in your home, such as in kitchens or in rooms with close access to outdoor grills.
Make sure you have basic survival items
It’s smart to have basic survival items for various situations that may arise during wildfire season.
- Keep basic survival items indoors, such as hand tools and flashlights.
- Stock up on safety and communication supplies such as whistles, headlamps or glow sticks.
- Make sure you have fire tools and land-clearing tools, including an axe, handsaw, rake and shovel.
Prepare household members and pets
Stock up on most-used items
Because air quality may be very poor during wildfire season, stock up on nonperishables and personal items to minimize trips outside the home.
- Stock up on shelf-stable foods, like meal bars and canned goods, as well as frozen foods.
- Make sure you have enough water for all household members. FEMA advises a minimum of 3 days’ worth of water for each member of the household.
- Pick up hygiene items, including toilet paper, personal wipes, feminine care products, soap, shampoo and dental care items.
Stock up on medical supplies
Another way to minimize trips outside the home is to stock up on medical supplies.
- If possible, get a 90-day supply of prescription and over-the-counter medications. This is especially important if evacuation is a possibility.
- Have a first aid kit on hand, or restock your current one.
- Keep sterile eye wash around to clear and relieve irritated eyes.
- Use coolers and cold packs to transport refrigerated medication and essentials, like insulin or breast milk, if you will need to evacuate.
Stock up on pet essentials
In addition to food and medical supplies, be sure to stock up on pet needs, if necessary.
- If you have enough space, buy a month’s worth of pet food. Keep it fresh inside a tamper-resistant pet food container.
- If air quality is too poor for pets to relieve themselves outside, it may be more practical to let them use puppy training pads in the interim.
- It may be helpful to have dog waste bags to dispose of solid waste. Be sure to tie bags off with duct tape for sanitary and hygienic disposal.
Make sure you have masks and goggles
If you need to go outdoors or if air quality in your home deteriorates, be prepared with masks and goggles.
- Wear N95 masks, which have advanced filters and fit securely on the face.
- Protective goggles may help keep debris and smoke from irritating your eyes.
Assemble an evacuation kit
If you’re in a burn zone, you may need to evacuate your home. Prior to wildfire season, assemble an evacuation kit and have “go bags” ready if you get the alert to leave. Here’s what to include:
Make sure you have all the electronic accessories you need to stay connected, especially if you expect to be displaced for a prolonged period of time.
- Stock up on spare chargers, power bricks and batteries to power devices.
- Two-way radios help you to maintain contact with household members in the event cellular service is unavailable.
Fireproof document storage
Before wildfire season begins, transfer important documents and valuables into portable fireproof storage bags. They’re easy to grab and bring with you to shelters or emergency sites. Here’s what you should include:
- Wills, marriage and birth certificates, titles, deeds, insurance policies, diplomas and passports
- Cash, credit cards and checkbooks
- Valuables such as family photos and jewelry
If time permits, gather basic necessities for each member of your household. To streamline the process, you may wish to use a checklist or pack go bags in advance.
- Bring all your medications as well as a travel pack of hygiene and personal care essentials.
- Pack a week’s worth of protective clothing, undergarments and footwear. Opt for long-sleeve shirts, hoodies and pants that can shield arms and legs from smoke and debris.
- Make sure you have additional hand sanitizer and masks to wear if you expect to stay in a shelter or emergency site.
- Include basic baby supplies like diapers, baby wipes, formula and baby food.
- If applicable, pack a portable crib, blankets, breast pump or milk storage bags.
- Include pet needs like medication, leashes, litter boxes, pet carriers and travel food and water bowls.
- Pack a few days’ worth of dry or wet pet food, whichever one is easier to transport.
Learn more about wildfire season safety and preparation by visiting Ready.gov and connecting with your local, county and state organizations for public safety.
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