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Wildfire

Prepare Yourself For A Wildfire

Wildfires eh? They used to be events that happened once in a blue moon and only in places where it  was scorchingly hot. Well not anymore. wildfires also known as wild land fires, forest fire, grass fire or bushfires are now thanks to global warming rapidly increasing year on year throughout the world. Australia, Los Angeles and even Siberia (yes Siberia) have been devastated in places in the last couple of years as weather patterns change and the world becomes a hotter place to live in.

As it sounds, wildfires are fires that burn in an uncontrolled manner causing havoc and devastation in whichever direction and path they proceed to go towards which is usually dictated by the wind strength and direction. Wildfires can quickly burn millions of acres and areas of land and can destroy everything including trees, homes, animals and humans in their paths. Families and whole communities that live in rural, wildfire prone areas are in danger of losing their homes and having to flee for their own safety. Wildfires also have major health hazards, especially for people with existing breathing problems. Breathing fire smoke can cause respiratory issues and coughing, wheezing and bronchitis. Another threat is carbon monoxide (CO). Inhaling CO reduces oxygen delivery to the body’s organs and tissues and can lead to headaches, nausea, dizziness and even premature death.

 

Bush fires are so called because they occur in the dry Australian bush. In the huge New South Wales bush fire in 2019 (and early 2020) over 480 million animals lost their lives in just this one state! In human terms about 25 people lost their lives in 2020 through wildfires. Although classed as a natural disaster, only 10-15% of wildfires happen on their own in nature. Human intervention has been the key here to the way in which wildfires have expended phenomenally in the last 30 years and appear to be ever on the increase. This is due to scenarios such as changing the layout of the land, global warming, camp fires going out of control, cigarettes discarded without due care and attention and other significant human involvement such as arson.

 

Unfortunately human beings have been tinkering and fiddling about with the lands for a good number of years. For example, wildfire is no new phenomenon for the West coast of the United States of America, and certainly not for California that seems in the news almost on a yearly basis these days. Recent fires in the state over the past five years, however, have been among the largest and most destructive in recorded history. This is due in part to past forest management practices dating back to the California Gold Rush of 1849, as well as dated urban planning strategies that built homes in areas where wildfire had historically burned. In other words a bit of a stupid place to build new property but hey we are talking about the human race after all!

 

Now with warmer, drier climates combined with fire control practices over the last century, has produced a situation in which you can now expect the frequency and severity of wildfires to increase. Fire management practices have resulted in an unnatural buildup of fuels in forests, increasing fire risk at the boundaries between urban and wild land areas. Add to this the changes in climate, especially in areas that have experienced early snowmelt, have led to hotter, drier conditions that can increase fire activity in those areas. Wildfire risk depends on so many different and important factors. These include the temperature, the soil moisture and the abundance of trees, plants and other potential fuels. These factors can be directly and indirectly tied to climate change. Warmer, drier conditions contribute to the spread of bark beetles and other insects that can weaken or kill trees, increasing potential fuels in forests. Seriously, whoever though the beetles could set the world on fire? I wonder what John Lennon would have said?

 

Fuels in forests sounds barely believable I know but David Copperfield beware. Wildfires can be caused by an accumulation of dead matter (leaves, twigs, and trees) that can create enough heat in some instances to spontaneously combust and ignite the surrounding area! Not only that but one other curious fact is that Lightning strikes the earth over 100,000 times a day. 10 to 20% of these lightning strikes can cause fire, that’s a potential 20,000 fires per day!

 

So wildfires are certainly on the increase as we state above but that is not to say it is a brand new concept. One of the largest fires in recent history was in 1825 when a fire tore through Maine and New Brunswick, Canada, burning 3 million acres of forest.

 

And have you heard of crown fires as I confess I had not. “Crown fires” are spread by wind moving quickly across the tops of trees. “Running crown fires” are even more dangerous because they burn extremely hot, travel rapidly, and can change direction quickly. Whether they can play the ukulele and recite Shakespeare is another matter entirely.

 

A little bit of information about the smoke too. Wildfire smoke contains carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless and toxic gas. Firefighters working near the fire are at greatest risk for high doses of carbon monoxide. Areas even a few hundred yards downwind of the fire where there are high particulate smoke levels typically don’t have high levels of carbon monoxide. Signs of high carbon monoxide levels in the blood include headaches, dizziness, nausea and decreased mental functioning.

 

What can you do when in the vicinity of a raging wildfire? Well firstly if the authorities tell you to evacuate then don’t be a clever clogs and simply get out of there. However, don’t forget to shut off your gas! If you see a fire on the march then report it to the police and you can always wet down your place if you feel it is needed and really why not? Remove anything in your property that could go up immediately in a wildfire like an old settee, so if you have time get it into your garage or even the garden if you feel it necessary. Again if you get the request to leave then just do it and take your wife, your kids and any pets and get the hell out of there quick smart. Everything else can be replaced but they can’t and leave everything else behind, even the Picasso original adorning your toilet door.

 

In our ongoing prepping series, make sure you are ready just in case you get caught in a wildfire. Make sure you are as well prepared as you can possibly be so that you will be the one to survive and as we always stipulate use your common sense and keep a hold of our checklist. Here are some essential tools and ideas in case of a wildfire.

 

 

 

Checklist -With various options.

 

As always, there are a whole host of options for prepping for a wildfire so see what is important for you in your specific situation.

 

 

Sprinklers

 

One important aspect that could save you, members of your family and your house might be the use of sprinklers or a sprinkler system. Sprinklers are used to thoroughly wet down an area. This results in combustibles (buildings and landscape) being much less likely to ignite due to flying embers and the intense heat of a nearby fire. The soaked landscape releases moisture into the air.

 

One Stop Fire Products are one company that offers a full array of different options when it comes to sprinkler systems although they specialise in roof top sprinkler systems. The blurb looks good where they maintain that if you properly implement their Firesmart Program then a structure has a survival probability of over 90%. Impressive eh?

 

OSFP offer the Hydro-Wick Spike Sprinkler. This heavy duty sprinkler is designed for use with standard forestry fire pumps. A high performance model with applications including prescribed burns, exterior building protection, and fire line protection. Also works well for landscape watering and general cooling on a hot summer day. Supplied with splitter type nozzle and 2 extra nozzles of different sizes. Has spike support with mounting holes providing for a variety of placement options. Female GHT fitting is standard allowing connection to garden hose style coupling. Full-circle coverage. This is the workhorse for wild land fire crews. The cost of this is $279.00 Canadian Dollars.

 

 

Nelson on the other hand manufacture high profile sprinklers that don’t mess about. They are the John Wayne of sprinklers and one of their flagship sprinklers is the Nelson SR200 Sprinkler. The Nelson SR 200 Series Big Gun is suitable for use in general field irrigation on solid set travelers, center pivots, etc. With a part circle 27 degree trajectory, it comes equipped with a taper ring nozzle and Nelson flange as base. Watertecfire.com is the place to find this and will set you back 3896 US Dollars. Nelson make a heck of a lot of sprinklers in all different shapes and sizes so again worth checking out their extensive range.

 

 

 

Smoke Alarms

 

Smoke alarms are important little devils and are simply a must for those with a property in a potential wildfire area. Looking at the options there are some fascinating devices out there.

 

 

Google Nest Protect has won a number of awards and the features are excellent. It fits right into the brand’s flock of smart home safety devices. This combination smoke, fire, and carbon monoxide detector links to your home Wi-Fi, allowing you to monitor your home from your mobile device.

This smart smoke detector is polite. Instead of dealing with low battery chirps, you’ll get updates on your phone when the battery or sensor wears down. It also has a pathway light setting to make those midnight trips to the bathroom easier. Cost is around 109 UK Sterling and Google is the place to go.

 

What I personally like about it is that throughout the day, the Nest Protect performs 400 safety checks to make sure all’s well. But if the Nest Protect does sense a problem, you’ll hear a clear human voice alert you of danger. It has some really smart features and appears to have changed the game for fire, smoke, and carbon monoxide detection, but it’s still pretty expensive (especially if you’re installing multiple alarms). But with its 10 year shelf life, it’s an investment worth considering. Nest Protect has been redesigned from the inside out. It has a Split Spectrum Sensor and tests itself automatically. It’s also the first home alarm you can hush from your phone without any extra hardware required. And it tells you what’s wrong and can even alert your phone.

 

 

 

A decent competitor is a company called First Alert. Smart Assistant Enabled Smoke Detector and Carbon Monoxide Detector Alarm with Premium Home Speaker, Onelink Safe & Sound by First Alert. You can get one of these via Walmart for around 242 US Dollars.

 

The First Alert Onelink comes armed with a photoelectric smoke detector and an electrochemical sensor for catching carbon monoxide. As well as keeping your family safe, it comes dolled up with a built-in Alexa assistant. You can speak to the smoke alarm to get the weather, play music, and set timers. Plus, you can install it anywhere a normal smoke detector goes such as your kitchen or bedroom. It also makes a hell of a spicy bacon sandwich (ok that last bit isn’t true) however overall it’s an all singing all dancing smoke alarm. One final word of warning; it is only compatible with Apple Smart Devices.

 

 

 

Our final Smoke alarm is from the well known Bosch brand. They manufacture the Bosch Smart Home Smoke Detector Twinguard with air quality measurement (Bosch Smart Home System, app connection, in box – compatible with Apple Home kit). This you can find at Amazon.co.uk.

 

So what is in the box?  The blurb says it’s a 2 in 1: Professional fire protection and constant air quality monitoring integrated into one product. It has a quick reaction in case of alarm thanks to immediate app notification with emergency quick dialing. Healthy indoor air: Continuous measurement of air quality, room temperature and relative humidity with push message via the app in case of bad values. Ventilation detector: Philips Hue and LEDVANCE Smart+ lamps integrated in the system signal the continuously measured air quality (green/yellow/red) so that targeted ventilation can be carried out. So it combines a fair few features for its price of £138.85. It is compatible with Apple HomeKit but be aware it can only be used with the Bosch Smart Home Controller although the App is available in your local language.

 

Fire Extinguishers

 

Just in case the fire gets too close for comfort it’s worth having a couple of fire extinguishers around the property. Here are a couple to wet your appetite.

 

The UK company Brittania make a 9ltr Water Fire Extinguisher. Suitable for tackling Class A (solid combustible) type fires, the Britannia Blazex 9ltr water fire extinguisher is a popular unit for many business premises looking to install a fire extinguisher that leaves no residue when discharged. This UK manufactured 9ltr water fire extinguisher is Kite marked to BS EN 3: 1996 and is supplied with a wall mounting bracket as standard. There is a 10 year manufacturers warranty which is exclusive to Safelincs. The price is £42.23.

The Fire extinguisher rating: 21A, its a Water fire extinguishing agent, kite marked to BS EN 3 and CE marked. Its a Stored pressure fire extinguisher and has an easy to read pressure gauge.

 

Firechief have a FXWC6 Wet Extinguisher, XTR, 6 L in Red available to purchase from Amazon.co.uk for £91.02.

 

This 6 litre Wet Chemical extinguisher is designed for use on both wildfires or on Class F fires involving cooking oils and fats. The Wet Chemical extinguishes the flames, cools the burning oil and seals the surface to prevent re-ignition. Easy to use it produces a gentle effective spray to help prevent oil splashing on to the user.

Finally, in the extinguisher category it is well worth mentioning is the winner of The Spruce website overall best all round fire extinguisher which went to the Amerex B500 5lb ABC Dry Chemical Class A B C. Available from Walmart for the sum of 65 US Dollars, Amerex say the B500 is long lasting and reliable, and a perfect size for general home use. This is a chemical fire extinguisher that will work on all kinds of fires: trash, wood, and paper; flammable liquids; and electrical blazes. It weighs 10 pounds, has 5 pounds of powder, and has a 2A, 10B-C rating.

 

The Amerex has all-metal valves and comes with a wall mount and a pressure gauge. Reviewers rave that unlike many home fire extinguishers, this one is refillable. They also say that its 14 second discharge is enough to put out substantial household blazes, but at about 15 inches tall, the canister is still small enough to fit in a cabinet or in other tight storage spaces. The metal handle and trigger also earn a lot of praise for sturdiness and durability compared to cheaper plastic versions. It comes with a six year warranty.

 

It should be noted that whilst writing this article at the end of June 2021 that Canada recorded a temperature of 49.6 C (121.3F) a record today (on June 30th 2021). Unfortunately because of bizarre weather patterns partly caused by global warming this situation will reoccur on a regular basis. Therefore a spokesman for the American Biden administration said today to expect possibly the worst wildfire season in 2021 since records began. So wildfires are without any shadow of a doubt, certainly here to stay. Be on your guard folks!

 

That’s it for this prepping session but as there is so much that can be prepped in the event of a Wildfire.

Remember to plan well in advance and test out the equipment where appropriate. It is important to make a plan and work out what you need in advance then you will be well on your way to ensuring you can survive a wildfire.

 

Be safe. Be secure. Be ready. Be sensible.