Understand a Wildfire:
Wildfires are unplanned fires that burn in natural areas like forests, grasslands, or prairies. These dangerous fires spread quickly and can devastate not only wildland and natural areas, but also communities.
Fire Watch vs. Warning:
Fire Weather Watch: Be Prepared!A Watch alerts land managers and the public that upcoming weather conditions could result in extensive wildland fire occurrence or extreme fire behavior. A watch means critical fire weather conditions are possible but not imminent or occurring.
Red Flag Warning: Take Action!Be extremely careful with open flames. NWS issues a Red Flag Warning, in conjunction with land management agencies, to alert land managers to an ongoing or imminent critical fire weather pattern. NWS issues a Red Flag Warning when fire conditions are ongoing or expected to occur shortly.
Before a Wildfire:
Take personal responsibility and prepare long before the threat of a wildland fire so your home is ready in case of a fire:
- Be Weather-Ready: Check the forecast regularly to see if you're at risk for Fire Weather. Listen to local news or check the Norman National Weather Service webpage to stay informed about Fire watches and warnings. Pay attention to air quality alerts.
- Sign up for WichitaFalls CodeRED: The number one way to receive an emergency alert from Wichita Falls OEM and NWS is through a CodeRED message. Visit Emergency Alerts for more information on how to sign up and keep your information up to date.
- Build or Re-Stock Your Kit: Have critical items to help you survive before help arrives. During large-scale disasters, help could be delayed. Also develop a car emergency kit that has food, water, blankets, and flashlights. Make sure your insurance policies and personal documents, like ID, are up to date, and place copies of them in your emergency kit.
- Create a Communications Plan: Have a family plan that includes an emergency meeting place and related information.
- Prepare Your Home:
- Create a fire-resistant zone that is free of leaves, debris or flammable materials for at least 30 feet from your home.
- Designate a room that can be closed off from outside air. Close all doors and windows. Set up a portable air cleaner to keep indoor pollution levels low when smoky conditions exist.
- Use fire-resistant materials to build, renovate or make repairs.
During a Wildfire:
Remain aware and monitor local radio and television outlets. Be ready to GO when told to evacuate!
- Pay attention to emergency alerts and notifications for information and instructions.
- Evacuate immediately if authorities tell you to do so!
- Check with local authorities for the latest information about public shelters.
- Consider making plans with friends or family to shelter with them where you may be safer and more comfortable.
- If trapped, call 9-1-1 and give your location, but be aware that emergency response could be delayed or impossible. Turn on lights to help rescuers find you.
- Use an N95 mask to protect yourself from smoke inhalation or limit your exposure to smoke by doing the following:
- Choose a room to close off from the outside air and set up a portable air cleaner or filter to keep the air in this room clean even when it's smoky in the rest of the building and outdoors.
- Use high-efficiency filters in your central air conditioning system to capture fine particles from smoke.
- If you are not ordered to evacuate but smoky conditions exist, stay inside in a safe location or go to a community building where smoke levels are lower.
Ready, Set, GO!
After a Wildfire:
Stay informed and listen to local officials.
- Do not return home until authorities say it is safe to do so.
- Avoid hot ash, charred trees, smoldering debris, and live embers. The ground may contain heat pockets that can burn you or spark another fire.
- When cleaning, wear protective clothing- including a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, work gloves, and sturdy thick-soled shoes-during clean-up efforts.
- Use a respirator to limit your exposure, and wet debris to minimize breathing dust particles. People with asthma, COPD, and/or other lung conditions should take precautions in areas with poor air quality, as it can worsen symptoms.
- Document property damage with photographs. Conduct an inventory and contact your insurance company for assistance.
- Have damage? Visit, damage.tdem.texas.gov to submit your damage to TDEM.
- Send text messages or use social media to reach out to family and friends. Phone systems are often busy following a disaster.