Prepping for wildfires in advance may save your life

Wildfire season is rapidly approaching with rising temperatures combined with wind making a dangerous combination. Is your home ready?
Published: Apr. 10, 2022 at 10:31 PM MST
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NEW RIVER, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - Hot weather and high winds play a big role this time of year when it comes to wildfires. And fire officials are warning all of us that now is the time to take precautions. There are a few things you can always do--like mowing or watering dead grass--to lower the risk of damage. But not everyone is in a rush to do them.

“It’s basically take your chances,” Marcel Brunet said. That’s how the New River resident describes his community’s approach to wildfires. “The fire travels 50 miles per hour,” Brunet said. “And add a little bit of a wind, it’ll just burn everything down.”

Living in a mobile home, Brunet is already equipped to evacuate on short notice. But he also has a water tank on property and cleans and trims any grassy areas every year. “Keep the ground as clear of vegetation as you can,” he added. It’s all part of what Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management Affairs Officer Tiffany Davila calls creating ‘defensible space’.

“That defensible space just basically acts as a buffer between a potential wildfire and your home,” she said. Davila says this means not just getting rid of debris, but anything that could potentially be flammable: propane tanks, firewood piles, and patio furniture.

“Start protecting your property now,” she said. “Don’t wait until smoke is in the air.” If it ends up being necessary to evacuate, Davila says having a pre-made emergency bag with essential items can help (especially when time is of the essence.)

“Have some clothes in there, some snacks, make sure your prescriptions are in there, or grab them before you leave,” Davila said. “And have a thumb drive with all of your important documents on there.”

As for Brunet, he’s still got some work to do with this year’s wildfire season fast approaching. “I trimmed my trees, but now I’ve got to bring the branches in,” he said. Despite the extra maintenance that comes with living in our dry, fire-susceptible state, Brunet (like I’m sure a lot of us) wouldn’t trade it for anything else. “Arizona’s the place to be!” he laughed. “Even with all of that.”

Some other ways to stay on top of wildfires are to sign up for emergency alerts on your phone from your county’s emergency management system, as well as making sure your tires are in good condition for any quick evacuations.