The Carolinas aren’t known for wildfires, but each year about 6,000 wildfires occur across the two states, burning approximately 35,000 acres of land. While the likelihood you’re affected is minimal, it’s still important to know what to do in the event of a South Carolina or North Carolina wildfire.
What You Need To Do During a Wildfire
How to get your home ready for a South or North Carolina wildfire
- To get ready, you should build an emergency kit.
- Make a family communications plan.
- Teach each family member how to use a fire extinguisher (ABC type). Show them where it's kept.
- Use fire-resistant or noncombustible materials on the roof and outside structure of the dwelling. You can also treat wood or flammable material used in roofs, siding, decking or trim with fire-retardant.
- Install a dual-sensor smoke alarm on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms. Test it monthly and change the batteries at least once each year.
- Clear away all combustible materials—including leaves or needles and other debris—from the roof, gutters, and decks (on top and below), and around the foundation.
- Prune branches and shrubs within 15 feet of chimneys, stove pipes, or the structure.
- Ask the power company to clear branches from or near power lines.
- Have household items that can be used as fire tools: a rake, axe, handsaw or chain saw, bucket and shovel.
- Keep a ladder that will reach the roof.
- Store outdoor furniture cushions, brooms, or other flammable items when not in use.
- Have a garden hose(s) that is long enough to reach any area of the house and other structures.
How to stay up to date and aware during a wildfire
- Download emergency service apps.
- Emergency service apps give you access to important resources. The SC Emergency Manager and ReadyNC apps are excellent sources of information including real-time flooding information. The FEMA mobile app allows you to get real-time alerts for up to five locations nationwide, locate emergency shelters, and connect with FEMA to register for disaster assistance online. It’s also free for Apple and Android devices.
- Monitor the weather reports provided by your local news radio and TV stations.
- Consider buying a NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) All Hazards receiver, which receives broadcast alerts directly from NWS.
- Know what each NWS Fire Alerts mean
- Fire Watch: Potentially dangerous fire weather conditions are possible over the next 12 to 72 hours.
- Fire Weather Warning (or Red Flag): Fire danger exists and weather patterns that support wildfires are either occurring or expected to occur within 24 hours.
- Evacuation: If the danger is imminent, local authorities may issue an evacuation notice to alert residents that a fire is nearby and it is important to leave the area. Evacuation orders vary by state and community and may range from voluntary to mandatory. When authorities issue a mandatory evacuation notice, leave the area immediately.
- Think about how you will stay informed if there is a power outage. Have extra batteries for a battery-operated radio and your cell phone. Consider having a hand crank radio or cell phone charger.
- Know your evacuation routes; plan your transportation and a place to stay. To ensure you will be able to act quickly should you need to evacuate, you need to plan ahead.
- Identify several escape routes for your location in case roads are blocked.