Although wildfires are most common in the West, they can happen anywhere in the U.S. There are many ways to prepare your family for an unlikely fire that go beyond keeping a fire extinguisher handy—especially in the case of naturally-occurring fires caused by arid conditions and other environmental conditions. Here are three tips to help protect you and your loved ones.

1. Do Your Homework

Knowing your area’s risk for wildfires is the first step in preparing your home. If you know that your neighborhood is affected by wildfires often, and when they are likely to occur, thoroughly check for flammable items around your house. This includes landscaping; avoid keeping plants and trees (live or dead) too close to the house during the wildfire season for your area.

In addition to inspecting the exterior of your home, take a look around inside. Be sure to test your smoke detectors at least once a month, and replace the batteries at least twice a year. You’ll also want to develop an emergency plan, practice it with the entire family, and put together an emergency kit complete with essential items, in case you ever need to evacuate.

2. What to Take

Your emergency kit should include the following: first aid supplies, blankets and any personal items you may need (medications, clothing, toiletries), as well as necessities for any pets. For additional tips on disaster preparedness, check out The Hartford Center for Mature Market Excellence’s disaster prep guidebook.

3. Minimize Damage

If there have been reports of wildfires nearby, it’s important to prepare your home even if you have been ordered to evacuate. Once your emergency kit is ready, and you know what you will take and leave behind, hose down the house, roof and surrounding area, (time-permitting, of course). Also be sure to turn off the gas to your house to lower your risk.

For a more extensive list on how to prepare for wildfires and fireproof your home, visit The Hartford’s Wildfire Safety page.

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