Wildfire season in Alaska runs from April 1 to August 31 and to date, there are have been 227 wildfires in the state this season that have burned over 111,227 acres. The Red Cross of Alaska offers tips to help you and your family before, during and after a wildfire in your area.
BEFORE A FIRE OCCURS Remove anything that can catch fire from around your home, garage and/or outdoor shed, including firewood and propane tanks. If it’s flammable, keep it away from your house, deck or porch. Obey outside burning bans when issued by community, municipality or borough officials.
Other things you can do to be prepared include:
- Keep your gutters and roof clean. Remove dead vegetation and brush from your yard. Keep your lawn hydrated.
- Select building materials and plants that resist fire.
- Make sure driveway entrances and your house number or address are clearly marked.
- Set aside items that can be used as fire tools – a rake, axe, hand or chain saw, bucket and shovel.
- Identify and maintain a good water source outside your home. Examples include a small pond, well or swimming pool.
IF A FIRE OCCURS Listen to your local media for updates on the fire and be ready to leave quickly. Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing your direction of escape. You should also:
- Keep your pets in one room so you can find them quickly if you have to evacuate.
- Arrange for a temporary place to stay outside the threatened area.
- Keep your indoor air clean – close windows and doors to prevent the smoke outside from getting in your home.
- If smoke levels are high, don’t use anything that burns and adds to air pollution inside such as candles, fireplaces and wood or gas stoves.
If you’re trapped outdoors, crouch in a pond, river or stream.
- Don’t put wet clothing or bandanas over your mouth or nose, as moist air can cause more damage to your airway than dry air at the same temperature.
- If there is no body of water, look for shelter in a cleared area or among a bed of rocks. Lie flat, face down, and cover your body with soil. Breathe the air close to the ground to avoid scorching your lungs or inhaling smoke.
AFTER THE FIRE Don’t go home until fire officials say it is safe to do so. Be cautious entering a burned area – hazards could still exist. Avoid damaged or downed power lines, poles and wires. Other things to do include:
- Keep your animals under your direct control. Hidden embers and hot spots could burn them.
- Wet down debris to minimize breathing dust particles.
- Wear leather gloves and shoes with heavy soles.
- Throw out any food that has been exposed to heat, smoke or soot.
- Recheck for smoke or sparks throughout your home for several hours after the fire, including in your attic. Wildfire winds can blow burning embers anywhere so check for embers that could cause a fire.
For a full list of resources to help you and your family prepare for wildfires this summer, you can visit the Red Cross Wildfire Preparedness page on our website. To stay up to date on current wildfire information for the State of Alaska, visit the Alaska Wildland Fire Information site, which is an interagency website developed by federal and state agencies in Alaska to provide timely and accurate wildfire information for the entire state.
You can also download the free Red Cross Emergency App, which allows you to monitor 35 different types of severe weather and emergency alerts. To download, text GETEMERGENCY to 90999, visit redcross.org/apps or search for “American Red Cross” in your mobile phone app store.