Safety measures to adopt during wildfires

Catastrophic wildfires ripping across the Texas Panhandle have killed at least two people and threaten to destroy more homes, cattle, and livelihoods as the biggest inferno in state history engulfs more land every minute.

The Smokehouse Creek Fire has now torched more than 1 million acres in Texas alone, making it the largest fire on record in the state. The blaze has also charred more than 31,500 acres in Oklahoma as of Thursday evening, the state’s forestry service said. Altogether, the fire is among the largest in the Lower 48 since reliable record-keeping began in the 1980s.

On Wednesday, Gov. Greg Abott issued a disaster declaration for 60 counties in the area, directing the Texas Division of Emergency Management to arrange more resources and firefighters to contain the blaze. Additional medical personnel are also on the ground to support firefighters and other emergency responders.

Wildfire safety tips

  • Listen regularly to local alert systems, EAS, and NOAA Weather Radio.
  • Wear N95 respirator masks.
  • Stay in a safe room or location where air from outside is blocked from getting in.
  • Move outdoor furniture, door mats, potted plants in wooden basins, and the like inside, or move them as far away from the house as you can.
  • Put your emergency kit and other important items in your vehicle.
  • Fill garbage cans, tubs, pools, and the like with water to help firefighters if they end up on your property.
  • Call 911 if you are trapped. Turn on your lights to help them find you more quickly.
  • Close all vents, doors, windows, pet doors, and garage doors to avoid embers getting into the house.
  • Leave immediately if evacuation orders are given. Ideally, you would go out before orders go out so that firefighters get time to get into place and you have more safety measures.

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