The lives and property of many Americas are in grave peril from new threats of historic fire danger this summer. In fact, drought is turning large areas of the country into a tinderbox.
The historic fire danger led to blazes that consumed more than 120,000 acres and forced hundreds of people to evacuate in Northwestern Oklahoma on Friday, April 13, CBS News reported.
Colorado might see one of the worst fire seasons on record this summer because of low snowpack the U.S. Forest Service warned. Low snowpack leads to dry conditions that create lots of fuel for fires.
Wildfires are Deadlier Than You Think
Wildfires are far deadlier than most people think, 180 people died in wildfires in Australia in 2009, and 1,000 people were killed in America’s worst wildfire on October 15, 1918, Statista reported. A wildfire killed around 100 people including drivers trapped on a highway in Portugal in October 2017.
The main cause of deaths in wildfires is ignorance of the risks of these catastrophes. Many people die in fires because of the myths they believe.
Some wildfire myths that can kill you
1. Wildfires only occur in rural areas. One of the worst wildfires in US history was the Oakland Firestorm of 1991 which destroyed more than 3,500 homes in the Berkley Hills just outside the city. Fires were burning the Heart of Los Angeles threatening UCLA, Bel-Air, and Beverly Hills in December 2017, The New York Times reported. Wildfires can occur anywhere including densely populated urban areas.
2. Wildfires are only dangerous in the forest. Grass fires can be as deadly and as destructive as forest fires. Hundreds of cattle were killed in a grass fire in Clark County, Kansas, in March 2017, The Wichita Eagle reported.
3. Wildfires only occur in the summer. Deadly fires can happen at any time of year the deadliest wildfire in American history occurred in October 2018. Destructive wildfires are common on the Great Plains in the spring.
4. Wildfires only burn “Out West.” A forest fire in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, killed 14 people; and did more than $500 million in damage in November 2017, CNN reported.
The Key to Surviving a Wildfire
Since wildfires can happen almost anywhere, you need to know how to survive one. The key to surviving wildfires is the execution of your evacuation plan.
Have an evacuation plan in place and make the necessary preparations before the fire. Some evacuation basics include:
• Keep your gas tank full whenever fire danger is high.
• Have some extra fuel available in case gas stations run out.
• Start preparing for evacuation as soon as you hear about a fire in your area. Pack and have the vehicle loaded so you can leave fast.
• Leave as soon as you can. Never wait.
• Map out an evacuation route. If possible stick to the side roads because motorists have been burned to death in traffic jams on freeways during evacuations.
• Have a place to go. (Don’t underestimate this one.)
• Leave contact information with friends or family so they can find you.
• Do not try fighting it yourself. So, put the hose down. The truth is, professional firefighters have hard-time fighting wildfires, so amateurs will not only have a rough go but may very well be making a deadly mistake.
Bottom Line: The key to survival in a wildfire is to get out of its way. Your life and your family’s lives are always more important than property.