The new app leads users through a series of checklists to prepare themselves and their property for wildfires. (Image: CAL FIRE)

In 2016, the state of California experienced 5,762 wildfires, resulting in 147,373 acres burning, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE). Wildfires pose extreme danger to visitors and residents of the state, as well as significant property damage for houses caught in the fires’ path. To help prepare the public, CAL FIRE released a new app called “Ready for Wildfire.”

The app helps residents prepare their home and families for wildfires. The app provides users with resources including emergency checklists, instructions on creating an emergency supply kit, and guidance on developing a family communication and evacuation plan. It also provides tips on how residents can outfit their homes with fire-resistant construction materials.

A fire map shows users where wildfires are occurring in the state. (Image: CAL FIRE)

Along with preventative tips, the app also provides emergency alerts. The app allows users to register for customized alerts. Users can receive either text or push alert notifications to their device whenever CAL FIRE is responding to a wildfire in the user’s area. The app also allows users to sign up for regional alerts for counties of interest. For instance, a parent could register to receive alerts for the county whether their child attends school. The app can also notify users when a fire is reported within 30 miles of their device–especially useful for users who travel or spend time in nature.

“One of the many benefits of our new Ready for Wildfire app is the timely and accurate information it provides to residents about a wildfire in their area,” said Chief Ken Pimlott, CAL FIRE director and California’s state forester. “I am excited about this new valuable tool that will provide early alerts to the public to help ensure their safety.”

The state is also offering an incentive to get residents to download the app. Through a partnership with iHeart Media, users who download the app before May 21 can enter to win a sweepstakes prize worth $10,000. In line with the app’s message, $7,500 of the prize would be awarded in the form of a home improvement center gift card to be used toward making a house more fire-resistant. Thanks to the partnership, CAL FIRE notes that no state dollars were used for the sweepstakes prize. More than 11,000 Californians have already downloaded the app.

The app is available for both Apple and Android devices.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs