Usually, we plan for some precipitation during the year in Missoula, Montana, receiving about 12 inches of rain and 40 inches of snow per year. This year in June, some floods caused rockslides and mudslides within Yellowstone National Park. Closer to home, there are more folks who are thinking about wildfires that are nearby. With record-breaking heat waves and a longer wildfire season, keeping track of every fire event in Western Montana has been difficult. Whether you’re staying in town or heading outdoors for an adventure, use tools to know where the wildfires are burning. For example, you can sign up for fire alerts from smart911.
It’s always better to be prepared before you experience a wildfire close to your home. Our experts at Five Valleys Restoration have a few tips on how you can be best prepared for an unexpected event.
If you live in a single-family home, there are things you can do now to help protect it in the future. On Ready.gov, they offer many suggestions to keep your home and the surrounding area safer from wildfires:
If there is a wildfire here in western Montana, pay attention to official alerts. Rely on authorities and evacuate immediately if addressed. If you get trapped, call 911 and explain your location and group size. However, the emergency response could be delayed until safe for the first responders. Help rescuers find you by giving clear directions, offering alternative paths, and turning on house lights.
Be sure to frequently check with local authorities for the latest information about where to go. Use the suggested websites and apps to register so that your extended family can keep track of you in case your phone battery dies. You can also download a list of open Red Cross shelters in the area.
To protect yourself from smoke inhalation, have N95 masks available for everyone. If you need medical attention, contact your healthcare provider for further care instructions and shelter in place when possible.
AirNow.gov has information and suggestions about air quality. The fact sheet, “How to Create a Clean Room at Home,” provides more information about setting up a clean room within your home. You can designate a room to be closed off from outside air. This clean room can be set up before there is an active fire in your area. In order to keep levels of smoke and other particles even lower, you could include a portable air cleaner in the space.
When the Air Quality Index indicates unhealthy and sustained levels, you may be advised to stay indoors to reduce your exposure to smoke. This would be helpful for children, older adults, and people with heart disease or breathing problems. If you have asthma or bronchitis, check with your health care provider about the best options. Conditions can change quickly so be prepared to evacuate if necessary.
Although wildfires might rage around us, the odds are that your Missoula home will more likely suffer from fire damage from a more typical kitchen or electrical fire. Either way, the best chance to save your valuable possessions and investments is to take immediate action. Call the trusted Five Valley crew. They will drop everything and rush to your fire-damaged home 24 hours, 7 days a week.