If you live in a dry place like St. George, Utah, you know that wildfires are a serious risk during the hot summers. Wildfires are dangerous and if residents aren’t properly prepared, a wrongful death could occur — depending on how the fire was started. As your lawyer, we may be able to help you in the case of a wrongful death, but it’s better to keep everyone alive and safe.
CAL FIRE, California’s fire department, has developed a wildfire safety campaign called “Ready, Set, Go!” CAL FIRE’s campaign is designed for the California wildfires, but it’s also relevant in wildfire-prone places like St. George. Following these steps can help you and your family members avoid wrongful death.
Get Your Home Ready
Throughout the summer, make sure you are removing dead grass and dead plants from your yard. Trim your trees, making sure branches aren’t hanging over your home. Religiously clear out leaves and pine needles from your yard. By doing these things you will create a buffer between your home and the wildfire.
Hardening your home with fire-resistant materials will help prevent wrongful death, as embers from a wildfire can travel as far as a mile. If your home isn’t hardened, it is at risk of ignition even if the fire isn’t nearby. It doesn’t matter if you’re a lawyer or a judge, the fire will still burn your house.
Roofs are the most vulnerable part of your house. If you have a wood or shingled roof, you’ll want to reroof your home with metal or tiles. Cover all outer vents with metal coverings.
Windows Pose a Fire Hazard
Windows are a risk during a wildfire — glass will break if it reaches a hot enough temperature. A broken window will allow embers to enter your house, and large windows are more likely to break than smaller windows. If you can, replace large windowpanes with dual-paned windows instead. Make sure all your windows are tempered glass to maximize protection.
Fire-Resistant Siding Materials
You’ll also want to take a look at your siding material. Wood products like board panels will have to be replaced with a more fire resistant material. Stucco, fiber cement and other approved materials will better protect your home against the flames. If you’re a lawyer and you don’t know how to identify the materials used on your house, call a professional in advance to help you prepare your house.
Getting set is all about preparing your family for the possibility of evacuation. Just like a lawyer prepares a court case, you should prepare your family for evacuation. Every family will be different — and different preparations will be necessary for each family. However, each family should have an action plan and emergency supply kits. These preparations are necessary for avoiding a wrongful death.
Develop a Family Action Plan and Preparations
Your family’s action plan should have a designated meeting place outside of the fire hazardous area. You should plan a variety of different escape routes from your home and community. Have a plan that also plans for pets and large animals like horses or livestock.
Each member of your family in St. George should have at least one emergency supply kit. Supply kits need to include these things: three-day supply of food, three gallons of water, map marked with evacuation routes, medications, a change of clothing, an extra set of keys, money/credit cards, first aid kit, flashlight, batteries, important documents, contact information for your lawyer and sanitation supplies.
Evacuate Early if You Can
It will be better for your family, your home and your lawyer if you evacuate early. If you wait until the last minute, you won’t have time to do the extra little things that will increase your home’s defenses. Waiting until the last minute can be more dangerous for your family, and could result in a wrongful death. Don’t be stubborn — when it’s time to evacuate, make sure you have your emergency supply kits in your car, review the plan with your family and get out of there.
Drone Activity in St. George Contributing to Fires
In recent St. George fires, there has been a major problem with drones getting in the way of the firefighting flight crews. Flight crews in St. George have been grounded as a result of drone activity, allowing the fire to spread more rapidly. Since people insisted on flying their drones, officials in St. George had to evacuate about 100 homes. Don’t fly your drones to see the wildfire up close — by doing so, you are causing wrongful death, and you will certainly need a lawyer in St. George to help you navigate this situation.