Preparing for Wildfire Season

Living in Milpitas, like most bay area cities, we have had the luxury of not necessarily concerning ourselves with an abundance of caution for wildfires – with the exception of our hillside community. However, if Napa/Santa Rosa taught us anything, we learned that wildfires, with the right combination of wind, can wipe out entire neighborhoods, killing unaware residents in a matter of minutes, and no community is immune to this type of tragedy.

defensible space

Here are a few tips to keep your home and neighborhood safe:

  1. Remove flammable items, such as firewood piles, portable propane tanks at least 30 feet away from structures.
  2. Discard any dry or dead vegetation within 100 feet of your homes. IF you see a home with overgrown weeds., or other dead vegetation, you can call the Office of the Fire Marshal to report the problem, 408-586-3365.
  3. Learn and practice evacuation drills with your family. Expose children to the sound of the smoke detector. Its unpleasant and “scary” but they need to know what to do when they hear that noise. Tell them DO NOT HIDE, and it is okay to break a window if they need to escape.
  4. Bring your children by the Fire Station. We can let them know that a man in a “scary” fireman’s suit in a smoke filled room is there to save them, and not something to be feared. Teach them to GO TO the Firefighter, do not hide.
  5. Ensure everyone in your family knows where to meet in a disaster (such as a neighbors yard or driveway). And practice driving alternate evacuations routes so you are familiar with how to get our of your neighborhood or job in an emergency.
  6. Random fact: Did you know your junk drawer can present fire hazards? We all have that drawer that everyone throws random batteries, pens, chargers, etc. Did you know that a nine-volt battery rubbing up against a steel wool pad (think Brillo, Scotch-Brite scrubbers), can ignite a fire if rubbing up against each other in drawer! Think about them sliding back and forth when you open the drawer.
  7. Do not keep oil soaked rags in a pile – this includes linseed oils, tung, wood stain, oils and varnishes. These oils can “spontaneously combust” due to the oxidation of the chemicals. A heat source is not necessarily even a factor. For more information on household chemical hazards that could cause fires, visit Household Hazardous Waste (HHW). EPA considers some leftover household products that can catch fire, react, or explode under certain circumstances, or that are corrosive or toxic as household hazardous waste. Products, such as paints, cleaners, oils, batteries, and pesticides can contain hazardous ingredients and require special care when you dispose of them.
  8. Review your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy to ensure you have adequate coverage for your property and personal belongings.

Are You Prepared

For more information on Fire Prevention, contact the Milpitas Fire Prevention Department at 408-586-3365.

How to prepare for a wildfire evacuation
If your household is under voluntary or potential evacuations, begin to prepare your home and get ready to leave. If mandatory evacuations are ordered, it’s important to leave as fast as possible.

Pre-Evacuation Preparation Steps
When an evacuation is anticipated, follow these checklists (if time allows) to give your home the best chance of surviving a wildfire.

A Wildfire is Coming. Are You Ready to Go?
Download the Wildfire is Coming, Are You Ready to Go! brochure to get your home ready for wildfire.

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