Last month we wrote about the ways you can practice vigilance to help prevent wildfires. As wildfire season progresses, and the chance of evacuations increases, we’d like to talk about how to be prepared for the event of a wildfire. Remember, a wildfire can start anytime or anywhere. One of the best things you can do, is be ready in case you need to evacuate.
Know When to Go
During wildfire season it is incredibly important to register for your county’s emergency alerts, along with alerts for any area you work in or travel to. You can sign up for any or all of these (and more!) alerts, regardless of where you live. The most common local alerts to register for are from Garfield County, Pitkin County, and Eagle County alerts. If you want to signup for other County’s alerts, here is a statewide list.
If there is a wildfire nearby, you do not need to wait to be told to evacuate. If you feel unsafe, it’s time to go. Evacuation orders will be either a pre-evacuation order or an evacuation order. A pre-evacuation means you need to be ready to leave if ordered. An evacuation order means it is time to GO NOW!
Leave as soon as evacuation is recommended to avoid being caught in fire, smoke or road congestion. Evacuating early also helps firefighters keep roads clear of congestion, and lets us move more freely to do their job. In an intense wildfire, they may not have time to knock on every door. If you are advised to leave, don’t hesitate!
Officials will determine the areas to be evacuated and escape routes to use depending upon the fire’s location, behavior, winds, terrain, etc. and relay that information to you via alerts, “Reverse 911”, wireless emergency alerts, by knocking on doors, and /or any other means possible.
Have a few Go Kits Ready
Depending on how close the fire is to your home, you may have anywhere from days to minutes to prepare your home and family for evacuation. Because of this, it is vital to prepare a kit containing all essential items you will need to take with you if you must evacuate. Here and here are list of items to consider for your Go Kit. And don’t forget about a Go Kit for your furry friends!
Once you have prepared your go kit(s), store them in a safe place where you can quickly and easily grab it in the event of an emergency. You may want to prepare a backup kit to keep in your vehicle or place of business in case you aren’t able to get home.
Ensure Everyone Knows the Plan
Hold a meeting with all family or household members, including children, so that everyone is aware of your emergency plan. Develop your plan together and practice it together. As part of your plan, designate a group meeting spot in case you are not together, or in case any members of the household are away from home when you receive an evacuation notice. If you have pets, be sure to incorporate them into your emergency plan, including who will round each pet up and how they will get the pet to a safe place. Depending on the type of pets you have and their temperaments, you may have a hard time getting them to a safe place quickly. In this case, it is important to practice your emergency response plan with your pets and train them to become comfortable in a carrier.
Prepare Your Home, If Time Allows
If your area is under a pre-evacuation warning, you may have time to take some precautions to prepare your home to survive a wildfire. These actions should only be performed if the local authorities have advised that the danger is still far enough away.
- Close all windows and doors, but leave them unlocked in case firefighters need to enter your home
- Move furniture to the center of rooms away from windows and doors
- Remove flammable curtains or window shades
- Turn off your natural gas or propane line
- Move combustible outdoor items (grill, firewood, patio furniture) away from your home and into the middle of your lawn
- Leave your exterior lights on so firefighters can see your home in dark or smoky conditions
- Check on neighbors to ensure they know to prepare to evacuate
Stay Safe This Wildfire Season
The most important thing you can do in the event of a wildfire is keep yourself and your family safe. Your friends at the Carbondale Fire District are here to help keep the community safe. You can always reach out to us with any questions about wildfire preparedness and evacuation plans.