Forest fires are frequent in Québec and are often caused by human activity. The forest fire season usually starts in April until late October.
You can limit forest fire-related dangers by seeing to the following:
When you go to the forest and the degree of flammability is high (in the spring or during a drought), be informed about the following subjects:
- The danger of fire in your region or in the sector where you intend to go, and the preventive measures in effect. These measures may consist in:
- A ban on open fires in the forest or nearby
- The restriction of or a ban on logging operations or forest development activities at certain times of the day
- A ban on access to and travel in the forest, regardless of the means of transportation and the type of forest road or path taken
- The municipal by-laws governing outdoor fires
- The instructions in effect in controlled zones (ZECs), parks and reserves
- The restrictions on access to the forest, as well as on travel, work and burning in the forest
Here is what you can do for your protection:
- Always have an emergency kit within reach (at the cottage, in your backpack when hiking in the forest).
- Control vegetation (in French only) around your home.
- Store building materials, firewood and propane tanks more than 10 m away from any building on your land; clear away all vegetation within a radius of 3 m of the propane storage tank in order to reduce the risk of a fire spreading.
- Keep near your home a hose or a water supply of at least 200 litres in order to intervene promptly if a fire starts.
- Choose a cleared location, out of the wind, for a fire outside; have a shovel, a bucket of water or a rake nearby, constantly monitor your fire and, to extinguish it, spray it with abundant water and cover it with ash, sand or earth.
- Burn anything (waste, dead leaves) at the end of the day, when there is no wind, far from vegetation and in compliance with municipal by-laws.
- If you smoke outside, put out your cigarette butt on a rock or bury it in the ground.
Report a forest fire
To report a forest fire, call the Société de protection des forêts contre le feu (SOPFEU) at 1 800 463-3389. For any emergency situation, call 911.
Protect yourself from smoke
The smoke caused by a forest fire moves according to the speed of the wind.
The following people are more likely to be bothered by the smoke:
- Young children
- The elderly
- People with respiratory problems such as asthma and bronchitis
- People with heart problems
Even if you are in good health, follow the following advice to protect yourself from the effects of the smoke:
- Listen carefully to public notices and warnings about the presence of smoke or the air quality.
- Avoid outdoor activities when the air quality index is poor.
- Close the windows and doors of your home, along with the air exchange system, when there is smoke outside.
- Breathe into a damp cloth when in the presence of thick smoke, and be sure to keep the cloth in front of your mouth and nose in order to avoid inhaling smoke.
To protect your pet from the detrimental effects of smoke, do not let your pet go outside.
If, despite all the precautions taken, you do not feel well, call Info-Santé at 811. For a medical emergency, call 911.
Plan your travel
Comply with the following instructions:
- Plan your travel after checking the road conditions by calling Info Transports at 511 or going to the website www.quebec511.gouv.qc.ca.
- Comply with the signs posted, particularly at the approaches to forest roads, since forest roads may be closed by the authorities because of a fire further on in the forest zone where you want to go.
- Comply with the instructions of the authorities when travelling in a convoy (a type of organized transportation by which isolated residents can get supplies or evacuate their homes, if need be, because of a fire nearby); follow the escort vehicle, do not pass other vehicles, never stop, take only the route planned, keep the windows of your vehicle closed and ensure air circulation solely inside the vehicle so as not to get smoke inside.
Evacuate your home
If the authorities require it or you believe your safety is in jeopardy, evacuate your home.
Be sure to close the propane or natural gas inlet before leaving your home. Also be sure to lock the doors.
If you have time before leaving your home, and your safety is not in jeopardy, spray the land, the walls and the roof abundantly using a watering system.
Inform your family or the municipality of the place where you plan to stay temporarily.
Return to your home when authorized to do so
If the authorities allow it and your safety is not jeopardized, return to your home, preferably during the day, when problems and hazards are easier to see. When you arrive, take pictures to document the damage to your home.
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