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18 Things to Stockpile for the next Wildfire

Wildfires threatened the lives of people near wildland areas, as well as their property. Different conditions throughout the year increase the risk of wildfires. If you live in an area prone to wildfires, you need to be prepared. Planning and protecting your buildings can reduce the devastation your family might experience.

If you’ve lived through a wildfire, you understand the destruction that they leave in their path. The fires damage or destroy structures, disrupt needed community services and kill native animals and livestock. Wildfires cover massive areas of land, and the smoke travels even further away. Facing a wildfire is a scary experience.

Preparing for a Wildfire

If you live in an area prone to wildfires, you should prepare ahead of time, before the season begins. Most wildfires takes place in the spring and summer. You need to create a 30-foot safety zone around your house. In this zone, vegetation needs to be kept to a minimum. Some things you should do are:

  • Remove any vines on walls around your house.
  • Prune back shrubs and branches.
  • Remove tree limbs that are close to your home or close to the ground.
  • Take away flammable vegetation such as junipers, fir, pine, and eucalyptus.
  • Keep your lawn trimmed to a maximum height of two inches.

Another necessary step is creating an evacuation plane. Everyone living in these areas need a plan of escape; it is a necessity to save your life. Make sure you practice drills with your family.

You should have a map in your vehicle with two evacuation routes marked. Wildfires can block roads, so avoid getting trapped and have several routes. Remember, you don’t have to wait for the orders of evacuation to leave. In fact, it’s best to go as soon as you get uncomfortable. Waiting makes the roads congested and makes the job harder for firefighters.

Before you leave, prepare your house with a few of these steps:

  • Shut all windows and doors, but leave unlocked.
  • Remove curtains.
  • Shut off the gas at the meter.
  • Turn off your air conditioning.
  • Leave lights on for the firefighters.
  • Bring flammable items, such as children’s toys, inside or place in your pool.
  • Turn off propane tanks.
  • Connect garden hoses to outside water valves, and leave water buckets around your house.
  • Keep your car backed into your driveway or garage for a quick evacuation.

Learn more about prepping for and surviving wildfires in this other article.

18 Things to Stockpile for a Wildfire

You should have items in your house that allow you stay there safely as well as a supply kit in your vehicle. If you have to evacuate, you need to get out of their quickly. Plan to be away from your home for an extended time. Backpacks are a great choice, but you might want to use a larger tub if you have a family. Store them where you store your vehicle so you can easily get out the door.

  1. Water

It goes without saying that water is crucial for any disaster scenario. The recommendation is always a gallon of water per day per person, but always plan for more. You need water stored whether you want to stay at home or evacuate, and you should also think of places to hide it to keep it safe.

First, you have to decide if you want two supplies of water or if you want to have one and take it with you if you evacuate. If you only want to have one supply of water stored, you should store it near your vehicle for easy loading. Another option is to keep one gallon of water per person in your evacuation preps. Store the gallons in a large, Rubbermaid tub for easy transfer into your vehicle, or use these ingenious stackable water bricks.

  1. Battery-Operated Radio

If the power goes out during a wildfire, you want to have a battery operated radio available to listen to weather updates and emergency instructions. If you are told to evacuate, you don’t want to miss those instructions. Some radios also allow you to charge your cell phone. Having a charged cell phone is important so that you can check in with friends and family.

  1. Non-Perishable Foods

In your kit, you need enough non-perishable food for several days. Some items include:

  • Applesauce pouches
  • Fruit cups
  • Pretzels
  • Rice cakes
  • Oatmeal packets
  • Protein bars
  • Granola bars
  • Soup cups
  • Tuna packets
  • Peanut butter crackers
  • Saltine crackers
  • and more.

Don’t forget formula and baby food for your infant. If you have canned food items, make sure you get a manual can opener. Those cans of soup won’t help you if you can’t open them!

  1. Prescriptions

Throughout wildfire season, keep a close eye on your prescriptions. Refill as soon as you are able each time. Doing so allows you to be prepared with the prescriptions you need. If you are unable to get to the pharmacy, you want to make sure you don’t have two pills on hand if the medicine is necessary.

  1. Flashlights

Electricity may go out during a wildfire, even if you don’t need to evacuate. Have flashlights and a lot of batteries stashed in your house and your vehicle. Who wants to be stumbling around in the dark?

  1. Pet Food and Water

Your pets are family members too, so don’t forget about them! Store extra pet food in your evacuation kit as well as in your house. Your pets also need a gallon of water per day per pet, unless it is a cat. Make sure you have wet food for your cat to give them the necessary moisture.

  1. Food and Transportation for Livestock

An unfortunate amount of livestock dies each year due to wildfires. Livestock owners MUST think ahead to be properly prepared for this emergency. You need a place where you can bring your livestock that will be safe and clear of the fire.

At that location, you need to have food and water on hand for survival. That means you need to have the necessary means of transportation to get your livestock to that location. Don’t wait until a fire starts to make a plan. Create it well in advanced.

Another idea is to create a separate green space for your livestock that is on your property. This space needs to be close to a source of water, such as a pond. This area will have plenty of grass or food stored for your animals. However, if the fire gets too close to your prepared green space, it is time to leave.

  1. Chainsaw

If you don’t have a chainsaw on hand, it is time to get one! A chainsaw might be necessary to clear trees and branches off your property. Trees might fall across a road when you are evacuating, and a chainsaw gives you a way to clear debris off the road.

  1. Important Documents

In your kit, you need to have copies of all your important documents. Store copies of birth certificates, important licenses, and whatever you deem important. Having these will make your life a bit easier after the fire.

At home, you might keep your documents in a fire safe, but who wants to drag a safe with them when they evacuate? Not you! Instead, purchase a fireproof document bag. These bags keep your money, documents, and valuable items safe from water, fire, and smoke. A top choice is the Dragon Skin Bag, and another option is by AJ Gear. Both of these bags are water and fireproof up to 1,000 F.

  1. Extra Clothes

Your kit needs to have extra clothes for everyone. Prepare for at least three days. If you have babies, remember diapers, wipes and other necessary items, such as blankets. Babies are the most delicate, so plan carefully to ensure they are comfortable during this time.

Consider what you pack. Many of the common fabrics are flammable because light fabrics allow oxygen to circulate easily through the fibers. Oxygen fuels flames, which makes them flammable. Linen, cotton, lyocell, and rayon are flammable materials.

You want at least a few items that are made with flame retardant materials. Fabrics made from animal hair, pure silk or pure wool have a natural, flame resistant property. A wool blanket is a great, flame resistant choice.  You also might want to look at special, flame retardant materials that have been treated. Long, loose-fitting clothes are more dangerous than form-fitting clothing.

  1. Sanitation Supplies

Store moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation. If you plan to stay home and the water is off, you can make a makeshift toilet with cat litter and a garbage bag. Don’t worry about taking the cat litter with you if you evacuate.

Make sure you have disinfectant and chlorine bleach in your house if you plan to shelter there.

  1. Dust Masks

Smoke and soot are dangerous. They get into your lungs, leading to respiratory problems. You need to have masks available for everyone in the family, especially your children. Store them in the house and your vehicle. You shouldn’t walk outside without an N95 or even N99 mask. If you evacuate, put a mask on everyone before exiting and driving away.

  1. Shovel

A shovel is another tool you can use to suppress a fire if it gets too close to your house or blocks your route. A shovel can also be used to dig a trench to lie in to prevent being harmed to the fire. You can use a shovel to suppress a fire by suffocating the flames with soil. Piling dirt onto the flames will stop oxygen from reaching it, causing it to die down. Have a few shovels on hand to protect your property or vehicle.

  1. Large Water Container

Keep the largest container or multiple large containers on hand to store water to extinguish the flames. It is hard to find containers that hold enough water to suppress flames. Livestock troughs are choices and easy to find. Fill your containers if a wildfire starts to be prepared.

  1. Plastic Sheeting and Duct Tape

If you plan to stay in the shelter of your house, you need plastic sheets and duct tape. These items will block the cracks of your windows, stopping soot and smoke from entering your residence.

  1. Signal Flare or Whistle

Hopefully, you never get trapped, but if you do, you need a way to show your location. A signal flare or a whistle gives firefighters and emergency personnel a way to locate and save you. Store these items with hopes you will never need them.

  1. Garden Hose

You will want to have several garden hoses on hand. Hook them up to your external spouts to use to defend your home from the wildfire. Since you might have more than one spout or have a lot of property, you need several hoses.

  1. Fire Extinguisher

Everyone should have a fire extinguisher on hand, but it is a great idea to have several stored for a wildfire and a smaller one for the vehicle. You aren’t going to suppress a wildfire with a fire extinguisher, but you can use it to knock back the flames to create a path of escape.

Final Words

Wildfires can be scary situations, but you’ll be less scared if you are prepared. Create a plan of action in case a wildfire comes near your location. Have the necessary items on hand, and make sure everyone in your family understands the plan.

If you decide to evacuate, remember that you cannot return until authorities tell you that it is safe. Thoroughly check your home upon return for any signs of damage or leftover embers. The last thing you want is another spark causing a fire again!

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About Bethany Hayes

Bethany Hayes
Bethany Hayes is a mother of three kids who has a small, suburban homestead. When she isn’t homeschooling or gardening, she might be focusing on building up their homestead or preserving the harvest.

3 comments

  1. The author forgot one important item for wildfire preparation – a comprehensive inventory list for the insurance company.

    https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/preparing-home-inventory-case-your-property-gets-damaged-stolen.html

    https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/dealing-with-insurance-after-disaster-29640.html

    They may or may not give fire victims grief for the actual dwelling, but if you’re not prepared you’re going to lose Big Time on the contents.

    ***Sanitation Supplies***

    In my opinion there is no reason to diddle around with any “makeshift” rig. Bite the bullet and buy a 5 gallon with a lid!

    https://www.walmart.com/ip/Stansport-Bucket-Style-Portable-Toilet/270524028

    Once that’s safely stored in the closet, time to plan for a better system. The Humanure site has directions for building a simple box to enclose your buckets. (for the well-off they also offer their pretty $400 model) As they say, tipping over that bucket is NOT something you want to do, and by its nature it’s not a bit stable. (once your improved system is in place you can donate the unused/disinfected simple bucket & lid to a deserving relative)

    http://www.diyhousebuilding.com/bucket-toilets.html

    Notice they also use a stable box to cover the bucket. And a regular cheap toilet seat over the hole will do wonders for “comfort”. Back when I saw (and used) southern outhouses comfort wasn’t part of the planning in any of them. Neither was ventilation.

    Wood chips just aren’t very expensive, and having several bags ahead is a no-brainer so far as I’m concerned. For residual odors, consider this product:

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Camco-41199-TST-Orange-Power-Toilet-Treatment-1-Gallon/142572187434?epid=0&hash=item2131f6ef2a%3Ag%3AvYMAAOSwyi9aA7IC&_sacat=0&_nkw=tst+orange+power&_from=R40&rt=nc&LH_TitleDesc=0

    Big Box stores sell this in the Motorized Camper section. It comes in all sizes, but the unit cost is lower for large bottles. I keep a small one under the sink in the bathroom for the odd times when there is a temporary power outage. (no city water here)

    By the bye, if I ever do have to build a real old-time outhouse, there is one feature (besides good ventilation!) I definitely plan to install.

    https://www.amazon.com/Church-595-000-Elongated-Toilet/dp/B001ASF1YQ/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_sims?ie=UTF8

    Notice the split front. In freezing weather you take a pair of old wool socks and pull them over each side of the seat. Between uses the socks could be stored in a cookie tin (with lid) to protect them from mice. Just as the toilet paper would be stored in another larger metal can with a lid.

  2. I’ve lived in the West most of my adult life & have faced wildfire more than once. I may have missed it in the article but it is extremely important to never let your vehicles get below half a tank of gas. If there is the remote possibility the fire will reach you load & move your livestock early. Cows & horses panic when they smell fire & they are NOT cooperative. It’s fine to wet down your roof & trees but don’t entertain the notion that you can fight a wild fire with a garden hose. GET THE HELL OUT! By the way, leaving the lights on for the fire fighters is silly; the area’s electricity is one of the first things to go.

    • Linda, I’ve previously stated my view that areas subject to wildfires wouldn’t be a place I’d even consider for a home. And since I don’t live near any such place what I know about the subject has been picked up in bits and pieces. That said, I googled the issue of “leaving on lights” and found it’s a standard recommendation just about everywhere. The practice seems to be harmless enough, and I believe I’d also leave a TV blaring in an out-of-window-view place. There is at least an outside chance this would cause looters to reconsider picking THAT house.

      Your suggestion about gasoline is spot-on. Consider also a half-buried plastic “toy box” in the back yard. One of these could hold a few plastic five-gallon cans of gasoline without causing any insurance issues. (double or triple dosed with STA-bil, of course) I’ve heard that when the insurance companies sift the ashes of a house, one of the things they look for is evidence of gasoline storage. True? I would’t know, but it wouldn’t surprise me a bit.

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