For the past few weeks, the entire world has watched as wildfires blaze across the Australian continent. Hundreds upon hundreds of wildfires have burned over 46,000,000 acres of land. These fires have had an enormous impact on Australia and even the rest of the world with many countries lending aid however they can to help combat the destructive and dangerous blazes.
As Californians, people here are well aware of how dangerous wildfires can be. They can spark up without warning and blaze across the land leaving thick black scars in their wake. Wildfires don’t care about what they burn. They just burn everything that they can, even entire towns. This is exactly what happened with the 2018 Camp Fire that leveled the town of Paradise, California.
Fires can burn whatever they want, and so it is incredibly important for Californians to be prepared for fires of any kind and to never purposefully start one.
Fire Safety Tips
The best way to prepare for wildfires is to have a plan and emergency kit prepared. By having a plan and repeatedly practicing it, a person will be better prepared to handle an emergency fire. The constant practice and repetition may seem tedious, but that can save someone’s life. With enough repetition, the emergency plan will become muscle memory. Once that has happened, a person will be less likely to panic during an emergency and will handle the whole situation better.
Another important aspect of prepping for an emergency is to have an emergency kit. This kit should have all sorts of things, from enough food and water to last each member of the family 3 days, emergency medical supplies, extra supplies for prescribed medications, a light source, a hand crank radio, and pet supplies if applicable. For an in-depth list of what to put into an emergency kit, click here.
Some basic fire safety tips include:
• Keeps lawns well-watered.
• Create a 30-foot fire-resistant zone around the home that is free of dried plant material, dead leaves, and other flammable materials.
• Have two different escape routes from the neighborhood planned and rehearsed.
• Prepare to evacuate before being told to do so.
• Evacuate immediately when told to do so by emergency personnel.
• If trapped by a fire, call 911.
• Avoid going outside in smoky conditions.
• Use text messages and social media to communicate with family and friends since phone lines will likely be busy or down.
For a more comprehensive list of fire safety tips click here.
California Arson Laws
Something else that Californians should be aware of is the state’s arson law. Under California Penal Code (PC) 451, arson is defined as someone willfully and maliciously setting fire to any structure, forest land, or property. Basically, if anyone purposely sets a fire with the intent to cause harm or damage, they are guilty of arson.
The crime of arson in California is always charged as a felony and comes with varying prison sentences depending on what was burned:
• 2 to 6 years for arson of a structure or forest land.
• 3 to 8 years for arson of an inhabited structure or property.
• 5 to 9 years for arson that caused great bodily injury.
Anyone Can Be a Hero
Being prepared for any type of fire can very easily save a person’s life. By having an emergency plan and practicing it regularly, a person will be better prepared to handle an emergency situation where time is of the essence.
A person can never guess when an emergency will happen, or who will be the first to react to it. Recently in New Jersey, a 6-year-old girl is being hailed a hero for waking up in the middle of the night to the smell of smoke and the chirping of the house fire alarm. She quickly woke her dad, an ex-fire chief, up, who then managed to get everyone out of the house. This little girl’s quick thinking helped save her entire family. While this isn’t a perfect example of a good emergency fire plan, it is a good example of how a practiced plan can work well in dangerous situations. In this instance, the practiced plan of “get daddy” whenever something is wrong saved the little girl and her family.
Fires can be big, scary, and sudden but with the proper preparation, they can be dealt with. Some quick thinking can easily save a person’s life, and the best way to guarantee that quick thinking is through repeated practice of an emergency plan. If a family does that, keeps their house and yard maintained, and has a properly supplied emergency kit, they will be able to handle any emergency.
Do you have an emergency plan in place in your house? Do you have an emergency kit? If not, then you should really consider preparing both of those. They could easily save your life in the disastrous event of a fire, which are all too common here in California.