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September 24, 2012 Previous day Next day

This year has demonstrated the trend that wildfires are burning larger than ever, and NFPA's Firewise Communities Program is urging homeowners to take action to reduce the risk of losing their homes and property to wildfires.

 

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Photo taken in Bastrop, TX shortly after the wildfire in 2011. Photo by Ryan Depew.
September 2012 marks the first anniversary of the most destructive wildfire in Texas history. The Bastrop County Complex Fire destroyed more than 1,600 homes before it was extinguished in October 2011. While this record-breaking wildfire left lasting effects on the state, the Steiner Ranch neighborhood is a shining example of resilience and progress, as residents have come together to start anew – rebuilding using Firewise guidelines for home construction and landscape design and maintenance. This included taking part in a community fuel reduction day in which flammable brush and debris were removed and adequate space between trees and homes was created.

As September is National Preparedness Month, now is the time for millions of residents across the country to prepare themselves and protect their homes from the continued risk of wildfire. Contrary to common perception, a wildfire does not have to burn everything in its path. In fact, clearing property of debris and maintaining landscaping are important, yet simple, first steps for homeowners.

Residents can take certain actions to reduce the risk of home and property becoming fuel for a wildfire – actions that have saved communities such as Cedar Heights in Colorado Springs earlier this year. A comprehensive Firewise tips checklist for homeowners is available on the Firewise website.

http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef017c31fc97de970b-piI learned about a great resource currently available to San Diego County residents to be used in the event of a disaster.  It is called, "The Red Guide to Recovery". This resource handbook for disaster survivors is sponsored by the San Diego Burn Institute, Sempra Energy and others.  The book written by Sean Scott, was designed to answer critical questions that individuals have when they are recovering from a disaster including a wildfire.

http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef017744da2c5d970d-pihttp://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef017c31fc96aa970b-pihttp://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef017c31fc9719970b-pihttp://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef017744da2da8970d-piThe book addresses multiple decisions that will need to be made quickly after a disaster event and includes the following key issues:

  • Emergency preparedness kit
  • Taking safety precautions immediately following a disaster
  • Finding temporary shelter
  • Cleaning up and protecting your property
  • Submitting and pursuing your insurance claim
  • Finding financial aid
  • Selecting building contractors and others

http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef017744da2f0b970d-pihttp://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef017744da313b970d-piRedguide_1Even if you are not from San Diego you may want to examine some of the issues examined to prepare http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef017c31fc9bc4970b-pithis information for yourself in a notebook or recipe card box, so that if a disaster occurs you are ready.  The American Red Cross, and your local Emergency Management Agency would also have resource information readily available to you.Remember to always have an out of state contact designated for local family members to reach in case phone lines are down! 

Don't forget to prepare your home in the event of a wildfire event.  Fire Adapted Communities, Firewise Communities/USA® and the NFPA all have resources available to you on line to guide you in your preparations before an event.  It has been proven that preparation efforts will greatly reduce your losses in a wildfire event.  According to the FEMA website: "In the wake of disasters, people often wonder whether there is a way to protect both people and property from such devastating losses. The answer is a resounding "YES!" Mitigation is the way to provide that protection. Hazard mitigation means taking action to reduce or prevent future damage, preferably before a disaster strikes."  Create a Fire Adapted
Community
with your neighbors today!

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