5 safety tips for wildfire season

by | Mar 9, 2024 | Automotive, Health and Wellness, Home and Living

Last year was the worst year for wildfires in Canada’s recorded history. Unfortunately, with the increasing effects of climate change, this could be our new normal. That’s why every Canadian should have a plan in place for what to do if a fire threatens their home, cottage or community.

Maintain your home
There are some simple steps you can take to try to minimize damage to your property if a wildfire comes through. Keep your lawn trimmed, and regularly clean up debris such as leaves and dead tree branches around your yard. Flammable items, such as patio cushions, should be stored indoors. You should also know how to turn off the utilities, like natural gas, if the authorities advise doing so.

Stay informed
In an emergency, it’s important to stay on top of the latest available information. Keep your cellphone fully charged in case the power goes out. You should also listen to your local radio station for updates. For peace of mind, invest in a battery powered or windup radio so you can still hear alerts even if the power goes out.

Stock an emergency kit
If you do need to flee an oncoming fire, you’ll want to have a prepacked bag ready with some emergency supplies. You can buy a readymade kit or create your own. Pack it with a couple of days’ worth of non-perishable food and water, a first-aid kit and any medication family members will require. Also include a flashlight and some backup batteries, plus your emergency radio. Store it in a handy spot that the whole family knows about.

Have an evacuation plan
You’ve got the family, your pets and the emergency kit loaded in the car. Now, where do you go? Long before you find yourself in this terrifying situation, you should develop an escape plan with your family. Include at least a couple of different routes to take in case roads are blocked and a meeting place to gather if everyone is not at home. If possible, make plans to stay with friends or family in a different town in case it’s needed.

Drone safety
If you’re a drone operator and there’s an approaching wildfire, it might seem like a good idea to get a bird’s-eye view of the situation. The truth is, it’s not. The airspace within 9.3 kilometres of a wildfire is closed to all aircraft, including drones, except for those directly involved in the firefighting efforts. If an unauthorized aircraft is detected, firefighting air crews will be grounded – putting homes, communities and the firefighters on the ground at risk.

You could face serious penalties if you fly where you’re not supposed to. Before flying a drone in the summer months, check the fire management agency website for your region to make sure there are no active wildfires nearby. Remember to also check if any Notices to Airmen, known as NOTAMs, have been issued along your flight route.

Learn more about drone safety at canada.ca/drone-safety

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