Healthy Tahoe: Now is time to prepare for wildfire season
With summer just around the corner, now is the time to prepare for the possibility of wildfire. Here are a few general preparedness tips to keep in mind.
Prepare your home. Defensible space is the buffer you create between a building on your property and the vegetation (trees, shrubs, brush) that surround it. Defensible space reduces the risk that the flames, radiant heat, and embers from wildfires will ignite homes, thus reducing home losses. Additionally, defensible space provides more areas for firefighters to position themselves and their equipment in order to defend homes from wildfires.
Stay informed. Information can be difficult to dispel from rumors during an emergency, so ensure your information is coming from an official source. Sign up for emergency phone alerts at CalAlerts.org or through El Dorado County (public.coderedweb.com) or Douglas County (douglascounty.onthealert.com). If you use social media, follow Cal Fire or your local fire agency.
Assemble a disaster kit. Otherwise known as an emergency supplies kit, this easy-to-grab kit includes items like water, flashlights, first aid kit, change of clothing, and other items including a checklist of other items to grab if you must leave your home immediately. It can be difficult to remember what to pack in a time of emergency, so having a checklist helps guide the process and reduces anxiety. Don’t forget to include the needs of those with disabilities, pets, and children. Consider creating a list of things to pack for your child; include familiar items such as their favorite book or stuffed animal, that will help keep them comfortable during an emergency.
Make an evacuation route. Learn your community’s evacuation plan and determine your evacuation routes. Pre-establish several different routes in case certain roads are blocked or closed and consider marking them on a paper map in case you have no cell phone service. Practice these routes using the transportation you would take in a wildfire evacuation.Discuss your plans. Plan where you can stay if you have to leave your home. Decide if it is safe, and possible, to get to the home of family or friends. Informing coworkers, friends, and family about what you will do and where you will go before an emergency improves outcomes and reduces anxiety. Family members can become separated during an emergency, so be prepared by creating a plan for how to reach one another. Establish an out-of-area contact (such as a relative or friend) who can coordinate family members’ locations and information should you become separated.
Review your insurance. Evacuation can be expensive when considering costs like housing while displaced from your home. Your renters or homeowners insurance policy may include coverage or benefits in the event of an evacuation. Some homeowners insurance policies cover expenses beyond your normal costs when forced to live elsewhere due to fire or any disaster. For more information, visit CA Dept of Insurance (insurance.ca.gov) or NV Div of Insurance (doi.nv.gov).
April Boyde is the emergency manager for Barton Health. To learn more about wildfire safety and preparedness, visit ReadyForWildfire.org.
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