When in doubt, throw it out!

by | Dec 21, 2021 | 2021 Wildfire Advent

Industrial area in back of Lower 9th Ward, Photo from Infrogmation


Yesterday, we talked about some specific tips and tricks that will help you prepare to evacuate. What about some fun facts around lesser known wildfire evacuation tips and tricks, though?

First, let’s talk about refrigerators, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. (Slight spoilers ahead).

Image from Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull


In the beginning moments of the movie “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” Indiana survives a nuclear blast by hiding in an old refrigerator lined with lead.

The contents of your refrigerator may not need to survive a nuclear blast, but what happens when you need to leave your home unexpectedly, perhaps after recently grocery shopping?

Chances are, your food may not do quite as well as Indiana did.

According to the FDA, an unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours after losing power. A full freezer may hold temperatures for up to 48 hours.

Imagine leaving your home for 4 weeks.

In 2016, the Fort McMurray wildfire prompted the mandatory evacuation of the entire community, leading to quite the unpleasant surprise for those residents fortunate enough to have a home to return to. After a month of no electricity, insurance companies were advising residents to not even open their refrigerators, for fear of toxic contamination.

Photo taken by Terry Reith | CBC Network News Alberta, Canada


It’s very possible that power has been off for weeks, and then restored before you’ve ever made it home. How can you be sure that your food is safe?

  • If you have time before evacuating, discard your perishable food items from your refrigerator and freezer.
  • If this isn’t practical, place a few ice cubes in a bowl or bag in your freezer before you leave. If the temperature drops enough to melt the ice, you’ll know that the food is unlikely to be safe, regardless of whether it’s frozen again.

Your refrigerator is only one place you might not think when it comes to wildfire safety and evacuation.

Here are a few other wildfire evacuation tips:

  • Before leaving, place a ladder at the corner of your house. Unlike Santa Claus, your local fire department doesn’t have a sled with flying reindeer to easily get onto your roof!
  • Are you an avid grilling enthusiast? Don’t forget that your pellets, briquets or propane tanks are a source of fuel for wildfires. Move them away from the defensible zone of your house. Better yet, take them with you!
  • Don’t leave sprinklers or water running. While you may think it will provide short-term protection for your belongings, it can reduce water pressure for local firefighters and actually increase fire danger! Leaving out a hose is ok though!

Do you have a favorite wildfire safety tip you’d like to share? Comment below with your suggestions!

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