Before a fire comes it’s important to have a plan in place to keep you and your family safe. Right now, is a great time to do an audit of your fire preparedness and to develop your plan. You can utilize Cal Fire’s website to create a custom plan based on your location and several factors that factor into your situation. Another resource that has great information on what you can do is the American Red Cross. In general, it is good to take the following steps.
Create an Emergency Supply Kit
Putting together an emergency supply kit well in advance of needing one is a great way to quickly evacuate if you are forced to leave abruptly. Ideally, each person will have their own kit and will be prepared to be away for several days. Items to include in your emergency kit include:
- Face masks or coverings
- Three-day supply of non-perishable food and three gallons of water per person
- A map with at least two different evacuation routes
- Prescriptions and medications
- Extra clothes
- First aid kit
- Copies of important documents
- Pet supplies such as food and water
- An extra set of car keys, credit cards, cash, or traveler’s checks
Other items to grab if you have enough time would include easily carried valuables, irreplaceable items, computers, and chargers for important electronics such as cell phones and laptops. This is not an exhaustive list but offers a starting off point. For more details on what to pack in your kit and how to pack it, visit Cal Fire’s page on emergency supply kits.
Protecting Your Home
One of the best defenses against wildfires is creating a defensible space through vegetation management, adding hardscape, and removing potentially flammable debris. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) has new regulations that we discussed in a previous blog post. Currently, there is a minimum requirement of 100 feet of maintained space on each side of a living structure, which is any dwelling that people might live in. If you have a guest house on your property, this would be considered living space and would need to be surrounded by defensible space as well. This requirement does not extend to vacant land. While those are the state minimums, local entities may have other ordinances that you need to meet. It’s best to check the local regulations for your area by contacting the local fire department as well as local government agencies. The San Diego County website provides resources and guidelines that can help get your property ready.