Wildfires | All You Need To Know

Updated: Aug 26, 2021

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Wildfire Causes [1]

It's that time of year, rain is scarce and locations across Alberta and British Columbia are dry. With that being said, there are three elements, in combination, for a wildfire to ignite and burn:

  • Fuel: in the form of live or dead trees, vegetation and other organic matter;

  • Oxygen: in the air around us;

  • Heat: to ignite and burn, from lightning or human sources.

Natural Wildfires

Lightning is the primary reason for naturally-caused wildfires in Alberta or British Columbia. The strike of lightning can produce enough heat to ignite a tree or other fuel source. Did you know: Lightning strikes cause approximately 60% of wildfires in the Province in an average year.While lightning-caused wildfires cannot be prevented, the severity of wildfires may be reduced through land management activities such as fuels management, prescribed burning and landscape fire management planning.


Human-caused Wildfires

The most important thing to know about Human-caused wildfires is that they are preventable. Human-caused wildfires can start with any activity (accidentally or intentionally)including open burning, the use of engines or vehicles, dropping burning substances such as cigarettes, or any number of other human-related activities that can create a spark or a heat source sufficient to ignite a wildfire.


Action Plan [2]

So now that we've learned what causes a wildfire, let's talk about what you need to do to prepare for one. If your community is surrounded by brush, grassland or forest, follow these instructions to prepare your home and family for potential wildfires.

  • Prepare an emergency kit.

  • Check for, and remove, fire hazards in and around your home, such as dried-out branches, leaves and debris.

  • Keep a good sprinkler in an accessible location.

  • Learn fire safety techniques and teach them to members of your family.

  • Have fire drills with your family on a regular basis.

  • Maintain first-aid supplies to treat the injured until help arrives.

  • Have an escape plan so that all members of the family know how to get out of the house quickly and safely.

  • Have an emergency plan so family members can contact each other in case they are separated during an evacuation.

  • Make sure all family members are familiar with the technique of "STOP, DROP, AND ROLL" in case of clothes catching on fire.

  • Make sure every floor and all sleeping areas have smoke detectors.

  • Consult with your local fire department about making your home fire-resistant.

  • If you are on a farm/ranch, sheltering livestock may be the wrong thing to do because a wildfire could trap animals inside, causing them to burn alive. Leaving animals unsheltered is preferable, or if time and personal safety permits, evacuation away from the danger zone should be considered.

If you see a wildfire approaching your home

If you see a fire approaching your home or community, report it immediately by dialling 9-1-1 or your local emergency number. If it is safe, and there is time before the fire arrives, you should take the following action:

  • Close all windows and doors in the house.

  • Cover vents, windows, and other openings of the house with duct tape and/or precut pieces of plywood.

  • Park your car, positioned forward out of the driveway. Keep car windows closed and have your valuables already packed in your car.

  • Turn off propane or natural gas. Move any propane barbeques into the open, away from structures.

  • Turn on the lights in the house, porch, garage and yard. Inside the house, move combustible materials such as light curtains and furniture away from the windows.

  • Place a ladder to the roof in the front of the house.

  • Put lawn sprinklers on the roof of the house and turn on the water.

  • Move all combustibles away from the house, including firewood and lawn furniture.

  • Evacuate your family and pets to a safe location.

  • Stay tuned to your local radio station for up-to-date information on the fire and possible road closures.

  • Close all windows and doors in the house.

  • Cover vents, windows, and other openings of the house with duct tape and/or precut pieces of plywood.

  • Park your car, positioned forward out of the driveway. Keep car windows closed and have your valuables already packed in your car.

  • Turn off propane or natural gas. Move any propane barbeques into the open, away from structures.

  • Turn on the lights in the house, porch, garage and yard.

  • Inside the house, move combustible materials such as light curtains and furniture away from the windows.

  • Place a ladder to the roof in the front of the house.

  • Put lawn sprinklers on the roof of the house and turn on the water.

  • Move all combustibles away from the house, including firewood and lawn furniture.

  • Evacuate your family and pets to a safe location.

  • Stay tuned to your local radio station for up-to-date information on the fire and possible road closures.

Sources: https://www.getprepared.gc.ca/cnt/hzd/wldfrs-bfr-en.aspx

https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/wildfire-status/about-bcws/wildfire-response/fire-characteristics/causes

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