As we enter into summer, we enter a dangerous time as well, fire season. Much of the country falls victim to large-scale wildfires that can cause a lot of destruction. We are currently seeing the effects of wildfires in New York as they are getting secondhand contact from Canadian wildfires wreaking havoc. If you find yourself in a fire-impacted area this summer, we first and foremost recommend avoiding the roads, and staying put, unless you are getting evacuated. However, we understand that for some people driving, even in these high-stakes instances, is not a choice. If that applies to you and you wind up in a fire zone at any time, these are some tips for preparation and during the duration of your trip that we have for you to remain as safe as possible.
Do not stop, park, or stand outside of your vehicle on a road’s shoulder.
If you are in an active fire area that is allowing for moving traffic, always make sure to keep in motion. During a fire is not the time to pull off to the shoulder to take in the scenery. Unless there is some other sort of emergency, never stop, park, or get out of your car when driving through a fire. You also want to be sure to always remain behind and follow the pilot car if there is one in order to remain within the line of traffic.
Make sure you and your vehicle are spark-proof.
It is essential when driving in an active fire area or just a red-flag fire-warned area that you and your vehicle will not create sparks and risk worsening or starting a fire. Check that your vehicle has no dragging parts, as scrap metal could create a spark. Also confirm tire pressure is correct for your car, as driving with exposed wheel rims could also create a spark. It is important as well to maintain healthy brakes as if they are worn to the point of metal rubbing against metal, it can also create sparks. If you are a driver pulling a trailer, you will also want to have safety chains and make sure they are secured to the trailer very tightly as they can scrape and create sparks.
Carry a fire extinguisher.
This tip may seem silly, but it can make a world of difference. Having a piece of safety equipment like a fire extinguisher, while not being able to take out an entire wildfire, will help in the case that sparks start a small fire. Being able to put out a fire when it is still small and manageable is far better than fighting it in vast size.