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Wildfire evacuation

When fire danger is extreme or wildland fires are actively burning in the forest adjacent to your property, be cautious and prepare for a worst-case scenario. Do what you can, but remember that as soon as an evacuation order is given, you must leave. Large moving fires are dangerous and should be left for firefighters to manage.

Safety measures during wildfires

• Ignite no new fires and report any open fires or smoke to authorities.
• Check fire pits and burn barrels to make sure they are extinguished. Be careful when smoking outside.
• Try to remain at home until the fire danger drops. Keep in touch with any absent household members.
• Keep the radio on all day, tuned to a local station. Have a battery-powered radio ready in case of power failure.
• Move grazing animals to a central safe refuge. Keep pets close to the house.
• Ensure your vehicle is fueled and operational.

Be prepared to evacuate your home or workplace

Do not assume an evacuation will last only a few hours. Plan to evacuate with enough items to keep your family comfortable for at least five days.

If a fire approaches:
• If you see a fire approaching your home, report it immediately by dialing your provincial forestry office, local fire department emergency number, or 911.
• Activate whatever alert signal is used by your community disaster warning system.
• Dress properly to reduce risk of burn injuries. Wear long pants, shirts made of cotton or wool and sturdy footwear.
• Have firefighting tools and ladders propped against the house in a visible place.

When an evacuation alert is given:

Outside the house

• Cover all openings with metal coverings or fire-resistant material such as 12 millimeter plywood. This helps keep sparks and embers out. Move any combustibles well away from the house or inside.
• Attach garden hoses to tap spigots and place them so they can reach any exterior surface of the building (including the roof). Place a connected sprinkler on the roof and nail it down. Do not turn it on unless the fire is an immediate hazard.
• If you have an outdoor pool or hot tub, make is as accessible as possible for firefighters. Fill garbage cans and buckets with water and leave them where firefighters can find them.
• Block downspouts and fill rain gutters with water.
• Turn off propane or natural gas valves. Clear vegetation and debris from around outdoor tanks.

Inside the house

• Close all windows and doors (closing interior doors will slow fire spread inside the home).
• Move combustibles away from windows and sliding glass doors.
• Fill sinks, bathtubs and buckets for use as extra water reservoirs. Attach inside hoses and gather buckets and towels.

Time to evacuate

When you get the evacuation order, do not panic. Use your pre-planned evacuation route or the route singled out by authorities on site. Move away from the wildland fire, never toward it. If in doubt, use the principal evacuation route.

Drive carefully with headlights on making way for pedestrians and emergency vehicles. Stop at the pre-determined marshaling point(s). Report in to authorities and wait for further instructions. Do not leave again without informing officials. Do not return to your property until permitted to do so by authorities.

Protecting your farm resources

Owners should have an evacuation plan for livestock if threatened by fire. If your animals cannot be moved onto a safe area on your property, make and confirm transportation and feeding arrangements in advance. Obtain insurance coverage for all farm resources at risk from fire including crops and livestock. Government disaster financial assistance is limited and only covers uninsurable perils.

The risk to farm animals can be reduced by preparing and maintaining fuel-reduced areas onto which stock can be moved and held during a fire. Use a plowed or heavily grazed field with a minimum of grass or stubble if possible. This field should be shaded and located well away from any forested areas and to the leeward side of your property. Water should be available. Concrete or metal buildings located away from forest vegetation provide another livestock shelter option.

As a last resort, if you are unable to move livestock into a safer area, cut fences, turning the animals loose to take their chances with the fire as long as there is no danger to people or traffic.

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This great information was taken with permission from the Alberta Emergency Management Agency's Emergency Preparedness Week Campaign Kit
Download the brochure in its entirety here.

8 areas of emergency preparedness Water - Vital for Life Food - Sustain Your Health Shelter - Protect Yourself From The Elements First Aid - Saves Lives
8 areas of emergency preparedness Light - Diversification is Key Heat - Maintain Your Core Temperature Communication - Stay In Touch Sanitation - Often Overlooked