Experts talk fire prevention and preparedness

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - You stock up on supplies and make a plan for hurricane season... but are you prepared for a more common threat to your home?

Fire experts share their advice on preparing for and preventing fires during this heightened season of danger. (WJHG/WECP)

It's an issue few prepare for, but many face: a house fire.

Lieutenant J.J. Roberts of Panama City Beach Fire Department, said, "Everything is a lot drier so our combustibles are taking a lot less time to actually ignite, making it, obviously, easier and more dangerous."

Steve Weherley of the Florida Forest Service says because of Hurricane Michael, the threat of fires is more dangerous now than ever.

"It devastated eleven counties and we now have about 7.2 million acres of downed or broken timber," said Weherley.

That's why it's important every household is equipped with certain necessities.

Roberts said, "So as far as your house catching on fire, a fire extinguisher is always not a bad idea, keep your smoke detectors up to date."

Weherley added, "Batteries, extra batteries, water--you need water for three days during any kind of disaster. Flashlights and a first aid kit."

Experts say that while it's important to have emergency kits and fire extinguishers at home, the best way to prepare for a fire is to prevent it from happening in the first place.

"Having your boat stored away from your house, have your gas and your propane stored away from your house, your firewood, anything combustible, clean your gutters out of any debris or dying pine straw that's in there that could cause a fire," said Weherley.

But most importantly, have a plan.

"If your house is on fire just having a plan, in general, to get out of the house and knowing that closing the door behind you is gonna help the firemen whenever they come to mitigate the situation," said Roberts.

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