PREPARE FOR FIRE OR EVACUATION

Tom McMackin 

On May 15, 2020, the seasonal burn ban went into effect for our region in Klickitat County. In an ideal world, all those outside clean-ups and pruning sessions would have been managed successfully this Spring and the collected branches, duff and debris disposed of ahead of that date… Unfortunately, I find that there are still a few things I need to accomplish even as the Summer season with its potential for fire is upon us. 

If you, like me, have outside projects or last minute details to contend with… there are some simple things you can do to create defensible space around your house and other structures or sensitive areas. You can initiate or continue incorporating the Firewise 5’/30’/100’ protection zones concept to proactively prepare for a fire emergency. 

How? Start with inspecting all roof areas of any structures. Clean any debris resting on the roof, in its valleys or other nooks or crannies. Clear gutters, put screening on vents and generally tidy up down to the ground at the foundation and 5’ outward. This will make it difficult for fire running on the ground or embers drifting up with smoke or carried by the wind to get a toe-hold and kindle a new fire in immediate contact with your property. 

The next phase involves stepping back to survey areas that are within 30’ of property that needs protection. Taking care of this area will give first responders a fighting chance to put their skills and experience to work protecting your property safely and effectively. 

Here’s a reminder link that speaks to preparing your property for wild/forest fire events: 

https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/forestFire/preparing.html. This has excellent information and at the bottom, under the ‘Home Ignition Zones’ tab, is an illustration of the protection zones concept. 

Evacuation: 

What if that knock on your door comes at 2 AM? What will you do? What can you do? Thinking through those ‘what ifs’ and preparing for the possibility will transform the trauma of that moment into effective action and give you some peace of mind in the midst of the swirling chaos of an evacuation order. 

The following link offers “How to Prioritize an Evacuation List” – one approach to listing time and priority tasks for evacuation action. https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4EjTfXhwMcwelFqUFUydEQzR3M/view 

This link has a good, printable list of things to do before a wildfire event, when wildfire threatens, and if advised to evacuate. https:// mil.wa.gov/asset/5ba42010c6f26 

Resources: 

Contact Tom McMackin for more information on the ‘Firewise’ and ‘Ready, Set, Go!’ programs; if you have comments, questions, or suggestions; to get more involved with the High Prairie FireWise effort; or to get connected with resources available to us as a recognized FireWise Community. Contact Tom by email at firewise.onhighprairie@gmail. com or by phone message at 509-365-2786. 

Online resources: 

Firewise – http://www.firewise.org or http://www.firewise.org/wildfire-preparedness/be-firewise/home-and-landscape.aspx 

Ready, Set, Go! – http://www.wildlandfirersg.org or http://www. wildlandfirersg.org/Resident 

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