Community Agriculture Alliance: Ready, set, go
August 3, 2017
"It's not a question of if, but when, the next wildfire will occur. That's why the most important person protecting your life and property is you. With advance planning and preparation, you can dramatically increase your safety and the survivability of your property."
With the haze of smoke frequently filling our valley of late, this quote from the multi-agency publication "Ready, Set, Go! Your Personal Wildfire Action Plan" is especially relevant. Wildfire season is upon us, and it is time to get ready and set and also be prepared to go.
Be ready by making your home and property defensible and fire resistant. Create a buffer zone by removing weeds, brush and other vegetation within 30 feet of your home. Remove stressed, diseased, dead or dying trees and shrubs, and keep grass to less than 8 inches in height from 30 to 100 feet from your home. Forested areas are healthiest and most resistant to catastrophic fire when comprised of multiple ages, sizes and species of trees with at least 10 feet of space between treetops.
Being ready also means preparing your family by creating your wildfire action plan. Decide on emergency meeting locations and communication plans, as well as how to evacuate large animals and pets. Have fire extinguishers on hand, and train family members to use them. Ensure family members know where gas, electric and water shut-offs are and how to use them. Assemble an emergency supply go-kit, including medications and important documents, and have a portable radio or scanner, so you can stay updated on the fire and weather. Plan and practice your evacuation route(s).
The fire is coming … it's time to get set. Be prepared to evacuate, remaining close to your house. Stay hydrated, and ensure that your family and pets are accounted for. If time allows, close all windows and doors, leaving them unlocked. Turn off pilot lights and air conditioning. Leave your lights on, inside and out, so firefighters can see your house through the smoke. Turn off propane tanks and natural gas at the meter. Don't leave sprinklers on, so as not to reduce water pressure, and keep a ladder available. Back your car into the driveway for a quick departure. If you are trapped, stay in your home until the fire passes, keeping away from outside walls. Ensure you can exit the home if it catches fire. Fill sinks and tubs for emergency water supplies, and place wet towels under doors to keep smoke and embers out.
Go early! Do not wait to be advised to leave if there is a threat to your home or evacuation route. Take your go-kit, and cooperate with local authorities during evacuation and re-entry processes.
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Contact your local fire department or the Colorado State Forest Service for more information about wildfire preparedness. Visit wildlandfirersg.org/ for more information on the Ready, Set, Go! Program, administered by the International Association of Fire Chiefs. Be prepared this wildfire season: Ready, set, go!
Kristin Mortensen is administrative assistant for the Colorado State Forest Service.