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The Thermometer is Dropping and the Snow is Falling – Perfect Time to Gather Your Family in Front of the Fireplace and Talk About Wildfire

The Thermometer is Dropping and the Snow is Falling – Perfect Time to Gather Your Family in Front of the Fireplace and Talk About Wildfire

The calendar says mid-winter, but the humidity is low, the winds are gusting and the top brush is already dry. A wildfire could occur today. The Ken-Caryl Firewise Committee encourages you to be prepared in the event of a wildfire. Always be vigilant. Ready, Set, Go is an important program designed to help you and your family stay safe. Here is the latest on how you can be prepared:

Are You Ready?
The most unpredictable and dangerous fire you’re likely to encounter is a wind-driven wildfire. As winds change intensity and direction, a wildfire can either lay down and smolder, or it can turn into a roaring freight train. Knowing how to protect your home, your family, and when to leave in the event of a wildfire will be essential if you are to remain safe when disaster strikes. To help the Ken-Caryl community better understand the issues related to preparing for a wind-driven wildfire, everyone needs to understand and practice “Ready, Set, Go.”

Ready!
Using these three words, you can prepare your own Wildfire Action Plan and be prepared should a wildfire threaten your home. You can help protect your property by creating defensible space around your home. Be sure there are no tree limbs hanging over your house and the roof and gutters are free of leaves, pine needles and other debris. Make sure ornamental shrubbery is set back from the sides of your home and that leaves under them are cleared away. One of the most common dangers in a wildfire is free-falling embers landing in these places and igniting your home. Winter may not be the best time to work on the exterior of your home, but you can begin to plan.

Assemble emergency supplies and prepare a list of the things you want to take with you if you need to evacuate. Remember to think about things like cash, medications, phone chargers, computers and food for your pets. Plan your escape routes; you should know at least two different ways out of your neighborhood.

Pack a Wildfire Evacuation Kit
• Water – at least one gallon daily per person for four days
• Food – at least enough for four days
• Non-perishable packaged or canned food and juices
• Foods for infants or the elderly
• Snack foods
• Non-electric can opener
• Cooking tools and fuel
• Paper plates and plastic utensils
• Blankets, pillows and sleeping bags
• Clothing – seasonal, rain gear, sturdy shoes and gloves
• First-aid kit, medicine and prescription drugs
• Special items – for infants
• Toiletries and hygiene items
• Moisture wipes
• Flashlight and batteries
• Radio – battery-operated and NOAA weather radio
• Cash – banks and ATMs may not be open or available for extended periods
• Keys
• Toys, books and games
• Important documents in a waterproof container
• Insurance, medical records, bank account numbers, Social Security card, etc.
• Document all valuables with videotape if possible
• Tools – keep a set with you during the storm
• Vehicle fuel tanks filled
• Pet care items
• Proper identification and immunization records
• Ample supply of food and water
• Carrier or cage
• Medications
• Muzzle and leash

Set!
If a wildfire threatens your neighborhood, act immediately. Back your vehicle into the driveway with the hood (front) facing the street. Next, roll up the windows, and load your vehicle with everything you want to take with you. Make certain your valuables are either in your vehicle or are safely stored in a (fireproof) safe.
Remove flammable materials from around your house. This includes patio furniture, firewood, decorations and anything else that could catch fire. Then monitor the news for information regarding the fire.

Go!
The latest information suggests that you should not wait to be told to leave. Go early! Firefighters need room in which to work. By leaving, you give them the best chance to protect your property.

Think Clearly!
Leaving your home when a wildfire is approaching is a difficult and emotional decision. Many people believe that by staying behind, you will have a better chance of saving your home. The experience gained in past California wildfires makes it clear that the “stay and defend” concept may sound reasonable on paper, but is extremely dangerous in real-life. People decide to stay before the fire front arrives. When it does, many people change their mind (or panic) and decide to leave – and at that time, it’s too late. Many fatalities that have occurred in wildfires around the world are the result of people leaving their homes too late. It’s up to you to be prepared in the event of a wildfire. We urge you to learn, adopt and practice the Ready, Set, Go initiative.

This article originally appeared in the March 8, 2017 Life at Ken-Caryl newspaper.

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