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Myth No. 5: Stay and defend your home in the event of a wildfire

should you defend your home during a wildfire?

Australia has long embraced a policy of “stay and defend” during wildfires. The reasoning is that homeowners can be overtaken by wildfires as they attempt to evacuate, so it’s safer to stay home or leave the area early. Proponents say able-bodied persons can be trained to safely stay at home and fight spot fires.

While it’s not unusual for some U.S. homeowners to ignore evacuation orders and fight fires with garden hoses, firefighting organizations here widely encourage evacuation when wildfires threaten homes. The International Association of Fire Chiefs in Fairfax, Va., unveiled its "Ready, Set, Go!" program in 2010. It emphasizes early compliance with evacuation orders. The message is that it's a high-risk gamble to refuse to leave your home as a wildfire approaches.

People should always heed evacuation orders, says Moraga.

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