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Sunday, May 5, 2013

7 Tips Everyone Should Know for Wildfire Season


Whether you live in Colorado’s beautiful foothills or mountains, on the grassy plains or in a more urban interface, chances are you were touched in some way by last year’s wildfires. Unfortunately, dry conditions persist in many parts of the state, and forest conditions also pose a high risk for continued wildfires this year.

Wildfires often begin unnoticed. However, they spread quickly and every second counts! Talk to your loved ones, friends, neighbors and community members about these simple ways to prepare for, prevent and be resilient in the face of wildfires.

1. Have a Plan. Know routes out of your neighborhood or workplace; choose an emergency meet-up location in case you must evacuate, and make sure loved ones know the location; set up emergency contacts; know what you will do with pets and/or livestock. More ideas and assistance here: http://www.redcross.org/prepare/location/home-family/plan

2. Download the Wildfire App. This FREE app for iphones and Android devices, has tools for you to make your household emergency plan as well as specific guidance on what to do before, during and after a wildfire. Search for “Red Cross Wildfire” in your iTunes or Google Play app store. http://www.redcross.org/mobile-apps/wildfire-app

3. Build a Help Network. Time and again, we heard stories last year of people who saved neighbors’ lives by checking on them, helping them or their animals evacuate or providing other aid. Get to know your neighbors , their needs and your collective resources. Determine if there are folks nearby who may need extra help - an elderly resident, perhaps, or someone with a disability. Know whether you are self-sufficient or would need a helping hand from another, and make sure you have plans in place to receive or provide that help.

4. Gather Emergency Supplies. You may have to evacuate quickly. Gather essential supplies to sustain you for at least three days and have them in a go-bin that you can grab. View a list of suggested supplies here: http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/wildfire

5. Clean Your Property. According to Firewise, “Wildfire doesn’t everything in its path. In fact, cleaning your property of debris and maintaining your landscaping are important first steps to helping minimize damage and loss. Take these NFPA steps to mitigate your risk: http://www.firewise.org/~/media/Firewise/Files/Pdfs/Toolkit/FW_TK_Tips.pdf

6. Prep Your Surroundings. Make sure your driveway entrance and house number/address are clearly marked; Identify and maintain an adequate water source outside your home, such as a small pond, cistern, well or swimming pool; Set aside household items that can be used as fire tools: a rake, ax, hand saw or chain saw, bucket and shovel. You may need to fight small fires before emergency responders arrive.

7. Get Informed. Know how you’ll be notified of danger and what information sources you’ll turn to. Find out what emergency alert systems your local county, city or emergency agency has in place and sign up for notifications, if applicable. Make a back-up plan – weather radio, neighbors, etc. – to ensure that you have more than one source of info. And: When In Doubt, Get Out.

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