Wildfire safety: Before, during and after

Climate change and extreme weather lead to more wildfires – like the devastating Fort McMurray wildfire in May 2016. If you have a home or vacation property in a wildfire-prone area, these wildfire safety tips can help you protect it and keep your family safe.

Before a wildfire

Prepare:

In late spring/early summer:

  • Remove dried branches, leaves and debris from your property, roof and gutters often.
  • Place all combustibles like propane barbeques, lawn mowers and gas cans 10 metres from your home.
  • Avoid using dry mulches alongside your home.
  • Keep your lawn trimmed to 10 cm or less.
  • Move wood piles away from your home.
  • Keep a lawn sprinkler in an accessible location.
  • Ask your local utility company to remove branches or vegetation near power lines.

Make your home wildfire resilient:

Recent wildfires have shown that Canadian communities are vulnerable to devastating loss. With over 60% of the Canadian population living in areas where wildfires can occur, development standards play a significant role in reducing the potential impact of these fires.

If you’re in the process of building a new home, or renovating an existing property, watch this video to find out how you can reduce your wildfire risk.

For more wildfire home building, renovation and maintenance tips, download the FireSmart Home Development Guide.

During a wildfire

If a wildfire is approaching your area:

  • Listen to local media and authorities for wildfire updates, and pre-arrange shelter.
  • Close (do not lock) all home and car windows and doors.
  • Apply duct tape over vents and move combustibles away from windows.
  • Fill any large outdoor vessels – pools, hot tubs or garbage cans – with water to slow or discourage fire.
  • If wildfire is very near, wear protective clothing and footwear to protect from flying sparks and ashes.
  • Evacuate immediately if needed, even if the above steps aren’t completed.

After a wildfire

Check with authorities before returning home. If it’s safe to return and your home is damaged:

  • Don’t turn on utilities yourself. The fire department will ensure utilities (water, electricity and natural gas) are either safe to use or are disconnected before they leave the site.
  • Be aware of structural damage to your roof and floors.
  • Wear protective clothing such as pants, long sleeves, gloves, hard hats and steel-toe footwear with a sole plate.
  • Throw away food, beverages and medicine exposed to heat, smoke, soot or water.
  • If there’s no power, check to make sure the main breaker is on; fires can cause breakers to trip. If the breakers are on and you’re still without power, contact your utility company and use battery-powered lanterns and flashlights rather than candles.
  • Document any damage to your belongings by taking a photo or video and report the amount of damage to your insurance provider and local municipality.