Here in Southern California, wildfire is always a risk. But, this year thanks to soaking rains that brought the region out of the worst drought in the state’s history, the area has even more combustible materials than in previous years as new growth sprouted and took hold all throughout the Valley News coverage area.
In the past two weeks alone, a series of wildfires have scorched the area. The Palmer fire near Beaumont – caused by fireworks – burned 3,784 acres the week of Sept. 2. The biggest fire in the news is the La Tuna Fire, which consumed 7,194 acres, shut down the 210 freeway and destroyed five homes. Meanwhile, between Aug. 30 and now, a handful of smaller fires throughout the area also burned a good number of acres, all added up.
All of these fires served as a reminder that September is National Preparedness month and that residents should focus on becoming “fire ready.”
In 2015, I wrote briefly about emergency preparedness and the resources available to those in the local area and about www.Ready.gov, the website that I have used forever in preparing for emergencies no matter where I have lived. There is some great information there, and this week, I would encourage everyone to take a look at their wildfire preparedness section.
Be Informed, Plan Ahead and Take Action are the three areas this website focuses on, and they all make sense to me.
In the “Be Informed” section, there is a download you can save to your desktop, phone or tablet and refer back to as necessary, but the gist of this little gem is simple. In it you can learn how to protect yourself and your property in the event of a wildfire. Covering everything from what wildfire is to what the risk is in the area where we live, this handout is a must have for everyone who lives in Southern California. You can download it by visiting www.Ready.gov and clicking on the “How to Prepare for a Wildfire” link.
In the “Plan Ahead” section, there is a Wildfire Playbook, which is great for homeowners and business owners alike. This download offers up resources for households and organizations to discuss and practice plans and safety measures to improve resilience for specific disasters, including wildfires. I know what I need to grab from my office if the area is threatened by a wildfire, do you?
The “Take Action” section of the website encourages you to “start the conversation.” When people talk about preparedness, they are more likely to take action, according to the site. So, in an effort to get people talking and planning, this portion of the site offers customizable promotional materials like posters, banners, logos, e-vites and more.
Each year I go through our emergency kits to make sure everything is up to date. Our kits, which contain everything from important papers, medications, a video and photos of everything in our home, are right where we can grab them and evacuate quickly if we must. We also have 10-feet of defensible space between our home and anything flammable, the Red Cross Shelter Finder app is downloaded on all our phones and we have a plan in place on where to meet should we be separated.
One final note on evacuation: if you are told to go, then go. Trying to save your property or sheltering in place is a foolish risk that no one should take. Remember, stuff can be replaced, people can’t.
So, call me a nag for harping on emergency preparedness or call me crazy for my preparation processes, but should my family and I be faced with the unthinkable, we are ready to do what we need to do to stay alive and well in the event of an emergency. I sincerely hope you are too.