Our weather patterns have changed drastically. While this is not a debate on global warming, it is a fact that we all need to address…particularly in areas prone to wildfires.
Southern California has been in a drought for several years. The 2013/2014 “winter” didn’t happen. There has been very little rain and the warmest temperatures on record. The hillsides are brown and the wind is still blowing. This is a very dangerous set of circumstances.
In order to be prepared for any problems, there are things we need to do and we need to do them now. Some are physical chores, some are habits that need to be started.
Weather Watch: It doesn’t matter where you live, keep an eye on the weather. Also keep an eye on controlled burns. Red flag alerts will need careful observation by everyone and we don’t want to clog 911 lines about burns that are meant to protect us. You can do this by watching newscasts or by checking on-line.
Rural Preparations: May first used to be the “clear by” date for rural properties. It’s now April first. To be honest, you should keep it cleared year round. A cleared patch around your home and outbuildings can do two things. First, it makes it less likely that the building will burn. Second, it gives firefighters a chance to save your property. In a bad fire, they will probably triage and not even try to save homes that have too much brush or too many trees close to the structures.
You also should have an evacuation plan for the animals on your property. Cats and dogs are relatively easy but large animals require work and advance preparation. Make sure the animals are trained to load. If a fire is fairly close, evacuate them early so they don’t panic.
City Preparations: Lest you think you are safe from brushfires, let me tell you…not so. When we are dealing with high winds, embers can fly for miles. If they land on your roof or other flammable object on your property, they can start a fire.
Some roof types are safer than others. Shake shingles made from wood are the worst offenders. If you like the look of the shingles or your HOA demands that your roof look like others in the area, look into fakes. They don’t burn as easy and they can look like real wood.
For Asthmatics: If you have breathing difficulties such as asthma, it doesn’t matter how safe your home is…your lungs aren’t. Find a location that has filtered air and stay there. Keep your inhaler handy. The smoke can carry for miles.
For Everyone: Have a grab and go bag. Keep important papers, medications and other necessities in it. You may only have minutes before you have to evacuate and this could make a difference.
Have a Plan: Who is going to pick up the kids from school? Who will take care of the animals? Where will you meet if your home has been evacuated? What are alternate routes if the fire has closed roads? Get all of this information together and teach it to everyone in the family so that you can be as organized as possible.
Fire season is all year here in Southern California and in other drought ridden parts of the country. Getting ready now is extremely important.