Wildfires remain a constant threat in Florida, with seasonal droughts and frequent lightning.
Tips for reducing your home’s vulnerability to wildfire damage may be found at firewise.org. The American Red Cross offers this advice for residents who learn their homes are in a fire’s potential path:
- Be ready to leave at a moment’s notice.
- Listen to local radio and television stations for updated emergency information.
- Always back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape.
- Confine pets to one room so that you can find them if you need to evacuate quickly.
- Arrange for temporary housing at a friend or relative’s home outside the threatened area. Smoke from wildfires, a mixture of gases and fine particles from burning trees and other plant materials, poses a more far-reaching threat. Smoke can hurt your eyes, irritate your respiratory system and worsen chronic heart and lung diseases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers these suggestions for limiting exposure and protecting your health:
- Pay attention to local air quality reports. If you are advised to stay indoors, keep indoor air as clean as possible. Keep windows and doors
- closed unless it is extremely hot outside. Run an air conditioner if you have one, but keep the fresh air intake closed and the filter clean to prevent outdoor smoke from getting inside. If you do not have an air conditioner and it is too warm to stay inside with the windows closed, seek shelter elsewhere.
- Do not add to indoor pollution. When smoke levels are high, do not use anything that burns, such as candles or gas stoves. Do not vacuum, because vacuuming stirs up particles already inside your home.Do not smoke.
- Do not rely on paper dust masks commonly found at hardware stores for for protection. They are designed to trap large particles, such as sawdust, and will not protect your lungs from smoke.