What's Your Threat?


We live in Southern Oregon, where it’s lush and green and lovely- for most of the year. But during the summer when temperatures here can soar into the 100’s for days at a time, all of that lush, green foliage and grass quickly turns brown and dry. Forest fires are pretty common in my area of the state, causing many hundreds of acres to burn each year. As a matter of fact, last year we had a forest fire threaten homes and property in our community. After an enormous thunder and lightning storm, our area was hit with several large fires.

Know Your Threat


We learned so much during this time of natural disaster and while we knew wildfire was a definite threat to our area, we had thought we were prepared for that instance. Turns out we weren’t prepared for it at all! Sometimes it takes experiencing an event such as a wildfire or flood to really understand how best be prepared for it. We learned some huge lessons:

Know Your threat


1) Have an emergency evacuation plan. Know where you will go, how you will get there, and alternate routes available to you if possible. The homes and families that evacuated this past year had plenty of time to get what they wanted and to get out, i necessary, but that isn’t always the case.

2) Have particulate filtering masks in your preps. You have no idea how much *stuff* gets into the air until you have a fire burning just a couple of miles from your house. Most days it was so dangerous to be outside and breathe the air that our community was basically held hostage in our homes. I would have never thought to have the masks until we needed them, and by then it was too late.

3) If you have large animals, you MUST have an evacuation plan for them. You MUST have a way to transport them to a safe place, whether you own a stock or horse trailer or know someone who does, you have to be responsible for getting your animals to safety. Too many people have livestock or animals that they don’t have a way to transport to safety, don’t have a place to evacuate them to, or just don’t have a good system in place in case of emergency. When you take on the responsibilities of livestock, one of the things you MUST plan for is an evacuation. They are no different than kids- completely dependent upon you. Don’t let your animals down!

4) Have an emergency binder with all of your important information inside. Birth certificates, marriage certificates, titles, copies of credit cards, etc should all be inside an easy to grab binder, folder, or other contained item and EVERYONE in your family should know what it is and where it is at. If you only have a few minutes to get out of your house, the last thing you want to be doing is searching around for important documents. Have them in a centralized place, all together.

5) Have those 72 hour bags packed! If you do have to evacuate for a forest fire, having a 72 hour bag when you arrive at a shelter or any other place you may be staying could be the difference between your family having a few extra comfort items OR being scared, worried, and in a strange place with only what the shelter has available for you.

6) Keep a defensible space around your home. Keep grasses mowed and trimmed, watered to green during the worst of the hot weather if possible. Try to keep a large, open space between your house and forest. Where we live, many homes are just nestled into the woods and when there is a fire your house becomes fuel for the fire in that instance. You need to have a barrier between you and the trees, even if you don’t live in a place where there is forest right to your back door. Keep bushes, underbrush and other weeds trimmed and knocked down.

7) Find a reliable source of news and information. Too often social media is a place for half-truths and misconceptions to run rampant. We saw a lot of, “I heard that…..” on social media when the fires were burning here. This makes it hard to really grasp what is going on. Fortunately, we has a local fire protection agency and our state forestry department both have really great lines of communication with the community, through news releases, social media, and community meetings so that reliable information was readily available.

8) Probably most importantly, remember that most things are replaceable but your life isn’t. Be prepared to leave and don’t risk your life or the lives of your family for the “stuff” in your home or on your property. It can all be replaced, but you cannot.

Know Your Threat


Stay safe, be smart, and have your ducks in a row. Be ready in an instant! Fires happen quickly and in remote, rural locations firefighting resources might not be immediately available, so the chances of you having to leave your home increase. Be prepared!

What's Your Threat? What's the biggest threat to you and your family? Check out some amazing blogs and how they attack their biggest threats to being more prepared and more self-reliant!
Push Past the Fear and Just Do It!! – Mom with a PREP

Living in Tornado Alley – The Busy B Homemaker

{Forest Fire Safety} – Mama Kautz

Why You Need Food Storage – Food Storage Moms

Break in the Supply Chain – Homestead Dreamer

Economic Downturn – Apartment Prepper

Drought! – Ever Growing Farm

Medical Emergencies at Home – Preparedness Mama

Surviving a Tornado – Survival at Home

Rising Food Prices – Common Sense Homesteading

Economic Collapse – Timber Creek Farms

A Personal Job Loss Situation – Food Storage Made Easy

7 Tips for Keeping Your Family Together in an Emergency – Food Storage & Survival

Massive Blackout– Trailerpark Homestead

How to Overcome a Lack of Motivation to Prepare – Home Ready Home

The Unexpected – Are We Crazy, Or What?

Our Threats Are Many, But Our Worries Are None – Trayer Wilderness

Food Storage Without a Plan – My Food Storage Cookbook

Hurricanes and Nor’Easters – Backyard Pioneer

Hurricanes (What I Wish I Knew Before it Hit!) – Prepared-Housewives

A Financial Disaster – The Surival Mom

Staying Off the Radar – Geek Prepper

Everything Becomes Too Expensive – Beyond Off Grid

Posted in: Blog Hop.
Last Modified: May 23, 2014

8 comments on “What’s Your Threat: Wildfire

  1. Jen

    I structured my evacuation plan based on the amount of time I had to evacuate. From stop, drop and run to an undetermined amount of time. My list of things to grab started with the most important Kids, animals, important files and went down by order of importance to me and my family. Do you take meds daily? Wear contacts or glasses? Have any special medical equipment or devices? Batteries and charging cables? It’s vital to know where your purse, wallet and car keys are. Keep them on your body during an evacuation or put them in your car. Lock the animals in crates to keep them corralled until you load them up. Have a special blanket or pillow? What about your kids?

    We had the plan, we executed the plan beautifully. 5+ years later I’m so glad I had that plan. My son still has his childhood blanket, he sleeps with it every night. I still have my favorite pillow. The computer has died but we were able to extract the data before it did. The birth certificates, some hard to replace along with pink slips and divorce decrees, all survived due to a plan. Houses can be re-built, stuff replaced. A good plan helps this exponentially.

    1. Charley Post author

      Smart! I encourage everyone to have a “get out of dodge” plan for their homes. You just never know what can happen…..

  2. Jean

    Preparing for wildfire in rural mountain communities requires annual effort from all residents. Here is a very good guide explaining both fire behavior and exactly how to create effective defensible space.

    Living With Fire: A guide for the Homeowner: This is a very comprehensive guide

    I found these community evacuation plans very suitable for our mountain area (with a little tweaking) and I’ll be distributing some copies at our little Library’s yard sale this next week. Our county has zero formal evacuation plans and just ‘wings it’ when there is a big wildfire event. It’s up to residents to prepare themselves.
    Example Mountain Community Wildfire Evacuation Plans: http://www.nccfire.com/evacuation_plan.htm

    Having N95 particulate masks available is a great point! If you have elders in the family masks may really help with breathing issues if you have to be out of doors during severe fire seasons. Inside HEPA air filter units also help with smoke particulates for household air. We had one fiery summer where we had weeks and weeks of smoke-filled days.

    1. Charley Post author

      Thanks for chiming in, there are so many great resources out there. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Older Cow Girl

    I live in the same mountainous region as the fire in the pictures, above, not too far from Charley. Because I’d worked for the Forest Service for 14 years, and had fought in several fires myself, I know just how fast a fire can move. Not only is it hard to breathe the smoke…but your eyes can water so badly from the smoke that you can barely see to walk…let alone run if needed. Be advised that if Poison Oak burns within fires that you can get some lung and eye issues from both the smoke and poison oak. Have some really good masks for both family and pets. They make doggie masks, too. At the time of these fires we had chickens. There’s no way I can catch free range chickens during the day. I’d have to come back at night, if possible. I have plenty of cages for chickens.

    At the time this fire that Charley shows in the above pictures, my husband was working in North Dakota. So I was alone on the farm with animals and a very old Mum.

    PLAN: First, I got prepared by parking my 4×4 SixPack pickup (double cab) with horse trailer attached, w/stock rack in the bed of this pickup, pointed in the direction to pull out quickly. We have 2 horses, a dozen sheep, and 3 big dogs…and a 96 yr old mum. No chickens at the moment.

    Next, I would ride one and lead the other of our two horses 3 miles to a prearranged huge pasture with no trees or tall grasses, and several empty paddocks (friends take me back home).

    Then I would load the 3 dogs in the back of the pickup and Mum in the front seat. I packed a tarp to cover the stock rack for shade. I’ve trained our dozen sheep to load instantly into our horse trailer. Just teach them by tossing in some grain a few times. The full back seat of this pickup contained leashes, bag of dog food, people food (jerky, etc), bedding, water and water containers. Everything needed to survive several days for all of us. I keep grains, water jugs and watering containers for the dogs and sheep (in the horse trailer). I packed several more tarps for camping, plus axes/hatchets/saw in case it rained (which it did later on). There’s more, but you get the idea.

    I could camp inside this horse trailer. It’s predator proof…for me, mum, and the one house dog anyway. However, camping for Mum is not a good thing, so I’d have to take her to a friends house. The sheep and the two guard dogs can sleep outside. I could put the dogs in the pickup (inside the stock rack/back) if needed. We have lots of creeks and water in this valley among the mountains. The only thing I’d have to do is find a large open spot w/grazing and no trees…far from the fire.

    I have a special spot where I keep all our emergency supplies in case of fire or other disaster. It’s just grab and go. Even foam pads for sleeping on the ground, tent, cot, etc. Soon I will set up this same system again. Fire season is just around the corner. I have a special spot in a fire proof place where we keep all our important papers at all times. And we have a large safe for other valuables. I have all our medical supplies in another special place.

    Fires move so quickly. And they create their own storms when they get large. Fires throw out hot coals/cinders in the updrafts and begin new fires. Always be prepared.

    In this area we can also get flooding. Just recently I wondered what would happen if there was a landslide, and it cut off the creek. On the upside of the land slide, the creek would fill up and just keep filling…flooding farms and homes. The creek water never stops flowing. On the downside landslide the creek would empty…until the water got high enough to overflow the landslide. And if the landslide should break loose…bad for the downside folks. Around here…people should know to head for the high ground.

    1. Charley Post author

      Great plan and good points! Also, I’m THRILLED to have you comment here 🙂 Hope y’all are doing well!

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