Here in Houston, we generally think about wildfire danger as often as we do earthquakes, which is to say never at all.
But the recent fire in George Bush Park shows that the historic drought has made a lot more people vulnerable to a wildfire. So what should you do? We looked both to experts and to people who've been through the experience.
5. Use your pool If you've got a pool, it makes a handy storage space for lawn furniture. Just toss it all on in. That way, if your house burns to the ground, you'll still have some lawn furniture.
4. Your pets can't ride it out If you evacuate for a hurricane and you've got a ton of pets, you might rationalize leaving some of the more ornery ones behind if they balk at getting in the car. They can probably hunker down and find a spot to ride out the storm. Not with a wildfire. So wrangle that recalcitrant animal into the car and get ready to suffer.
3. The refrigerator can be a last-chance safe If you've got documents that don't absolutely need to be saved, or a trove of Grade B family pictures you can't fit in the car, toss them in the refrigerator. They at least have a shot at getting through the fire that way.
2. Don't help the fire out "Clear items that will burn from around the house, including wood piles, lawn furniture, barbecue grills, tarp coverings, etc.," FEMA says. "Move them outside of your defensible space." Shut off the gas, close all windows and interior doors to prevent drafts and remove any inflammable curtains.
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1. We'll let you decide this one Another tip from FEMA: "Don't Lock Up. Leave doors and windows closed but unlocked. It may be necessary for firefighters to gain quick entry into your home to fight fire. The entire area will be isolated and patrolled by sheriff's deputies or police."
Well, maybe. We can't see a lot of Houstonians going along with this one.