MENDOCINO Co., 3/26/22 — Northern California is facing potential high fire risks in the coming months after a historically dry winter, but there are still a number of useful steps you can take to prepare for emergencies. The Mendocino County Fire Safe Council is a good place to start connecting with local resources and preparedness info, and they’ve put together a list of steps to take now to make sure you’re ready for the warmer months.
The Fire Safe Council has also put together a quiz to test your knowledge, and by taking the quiz, you’ll also be entered to win one of several emergency preparedness prizes. You can take the quiz here. There will also be a Homebrew Festival and Wildfire Safety Expo held May 21, 2022 to help connect you with more emergency preparedness resources.
Here’s the six steps to preparedness from the Fire Safe Council:
Spring is upon us, and so is wildfire season. Drought conditions and hot weather will make this an especially dangerous year, and the Mendocino County Fire Safe Council (MCFSC) wants you to be prepared!
MCFSC’s new “Preparing for Wildfire” web page can help by providing six important steps for preparing yourself, your family, your home and even your neighborhood for wildfire – plus a link to a fire-readiness quiz where you could win prizes to help you be even better prepared. The following steps are explained in more detail, with helpful links and videos, on the Preparing for Wildfire page at https://firesafemendocino.org/preparing-for-wildfire/.
You will rest easier once you have taken the following steps to protect your life and home. Even the smallest of these steps could make a life-saving difference:
1) Sign up for emergency alerts. The County uses multiple systems to help with emergency communications. Make sure you are signed up for each of them, and that your information is up-to-date. You should also bookmark https://mendoready.org/ to follow events in real time and learn your own evacuation zone.
2) Make an emergency plan for your family – including pets and livestock – so you are ready to evacuate if needed.
Key elements of a family plan include: having alternate escape routes, and practicing them if they’re not familiar; identifying safe havens, out-of-area meet-up locations, and designated out-of-area contacts; creating go-kits and listing top-priority items and actions you should take; and knowing how to get your house ready for evacuation by, for example, moving flammable items away from doors and windows, turning off the gas, and leaving doors closed but not locked.
3) Make your home easy to reach and defend. During a wildfire, will you be able to evacuate safely? Can a fire engine reach your home with safe access and room for responders to park, turn around, and work? They may not be able to help you otherwise. Follow the link to MCFSC’s Wildfire Risk Assessment, found in Step 3 on the Preparing for Fire page, so that you can identify and address your own risks.
One easy, important improvement is a reflective address sign that’s visible to responders in dark or smoky conditions. You can order an address sign on the MCFSC website.
4) Continually improve your home-hardening. Defensible space and home-hardening are the twin keys to making your home more likely to survive a wildfire. Home-hardening can keep flying embers from igniting your home; wind-borne embers can travel up to a mile in gusty winds, and are the leading cause of home ignition in wildfires.
The MCFSC has created an entire series of short, prioritized home-hardening videos (with longer versions available) at https://firesafemendocino.org/homehardening/.
5) Continually maintain and improve your defensible space. When firefighters are forced to choose which houses to protect, they will most likely pick the ones that already have the best chance of surviving. You can make your home one of those!
Creating defensible space means reducing and thinning vegetation, and removing flammable items, so that an approaching fire runs out of fuel before it reaches you. More information and an illustration of the three defensible space zones are waiting for you on MCFSC’s new page.
6. Help your community plan and prepare. Once your own home and family are prepared, it is also smart to connect with your neighbors. In many situations, you are only as safe as your neighbors, and one of the worst threats to your home could be a vulnerable property nearby.
Neighborhood Fire Safe Councils help you and your neighbors be prepared, improving everyone’s chances of a better wildfire outcome. MCFSC’s map, reached by a link in Step 6, tells you whether you already have a local Neighborhood Fire Safe Council in your area.
Lucky #7. Bonus Item: Know how to NOT start fires. Did you know that the vast majority of wildland fires are caused by humans? Carelessness with cars, lawnmowers, power tools, burn piles, campfires, smoking, and fireworks is the most common cause of some of our biggest wildfires. Just say no to careless fire risk! See the video on MCFSC’s new page for more tips.
The Mendocino County Fire Safe Council is also offering a short quiz contest about wildfire safety. All of the answers can be found on the MCFSC website (some even in this article), and all successfully answered quizzes will be placed in a drawing for wonderful prizes including a professional home risk assessment, gift certificates, or a full go-bag stocked for up to four people.
The quiz can be found at https://firesafemendocino.org/preparing-for-wildfire/, and prizes will be awarded after MCFSC’s Homebrew Festival and Wildfire Safety Expo – another fun opportunity to learn all about getting yourself and your family ready for wildfire season – at the Anderson Valley Brewing Co. in Boonville, 3-6 pm on Saturday, May 21. Find out more about that event at https://www.mendohomebrewfest.com/.
And for those who are not going to flee, be prepared (!) to FIGHT. Hand tools to cut fire lines, pumps hose (1.5″ minimum) and water supply that does not count on the electricity being on. Cotton head to toe, plenty of drinking water and *always* have escape routes to safe zones planned. There is no team of one. Never work alone.
Calfire choses which houses are “losers” while they cannot field capabilities to get the job done, and have been trying to regulate volunteer fire out of existence for decades. Even winners are losers. Not for the foolish or weak of heart, but those who stay usually save their house. And often their neighbors’ houses too.