As nearly a million California residents seek refuge from the devastating wildfires that have caused billions of dollars in damages, many families who have yet to evacuate are wondering when -- and if -- they should leave.
The California disaster is a reminder of the importance of knowing how to protect your home in the event of an emergency. The following tips just may save your home.
First, turn off the gas -- this simple act can prevent an explosion. Then turn on the lights, which can help you find your way out if smoke gets into the house. Close every door and window to make the house as airtight as possible and also to keep any embers from getting inside.
If there is time, move furniture away from windows and glass doors.
Open drapes to prevent them from catching on fire from radiant heat. Do not go to your garage; there are too many flammables inside. Also stay out of the basement -- they usually have only one exit.
Instead, identify what direction the fire is coming from and go to the opposite end of the house.
Have your home sprayed with fire resistant foam.
Fire resistant foam is nontoxic and it rinses off after the danger of a fire has passed. Fire retardant gels, like the one made by Flame Guard, can be applied by homeowners to trees, shrubbery and home exteriors.
It's very important to have a fire-resistant roof in order to increase the chances of your house withstanding a fire. The best materials are slate, tile, terra cotta or metal -- never use wood shingles. You also should have double-paned or tempered windows. Single-paned windows will break very quickly.
Finally, clear the brush and trim trees on your property so that there is no flammable vegetation within 100 feet of your house. That clearance could keep a wildfire at bay.