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September 15, 2014 Previous day Next day

Wildfire cover photo NFPA Journal Sept2014 WildfireWatch columnThe September/October NFPA Journal is now available.  In its WildfireWatch column, I make a defense of defensible space as a lesson learned from the May 2014 fires in San Diego and help present the conept to the Journal's diverse readers.

For some backstory, I spent time last summer with the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department’s Air Operations Division seeing first-hand their response capability to wildfire and the challenges they face with San Diego’s often rugged natural terrain.  It was great learning from them and I’m thankful for the opportunity to have experienced the great work they do everyday.  11 months later, that same view from the helicopter saw fire, as 14 total fires burned 26,000 acres over a few days.  Though 65 structures were lost, countless more were saved and I explore that lesson learned from those fires in the column. 

Whether you call it a go-kit, emergency supplies or a 72-hour kit, during this 3rd week of September, America's Prepare-A-Thon theme is how to build an emergency kit. Have what you need ready to go when you are - and feel more prepared and less scared during a wildfire or other emergency event!

If you're wondering where to start, there are some great resources from including checklists and tips. The Designing for Disaster exhibit at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC, has a whole wall of supplies to provide a graphic example of what to include (see photo from their website, above). Basic supplies of food and water to last each family member for 72 hours are key, as emergency officials advise that in a major disaster you may have to be self-reliant for that amount of time. Proper clothing, prescriptions and treasured photos are other items to include in your go-kit.

Advisors as diverse as home-organization guru Marla Cilley (aka the FlyLady) and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints provide tips and tools online for getting your kit started and maintaining it. The LDS blog even has helpful hints about kit maintenance based on member experience of pop-top cans that "popped" after being left too long, and candy that melted into the other supplies. (Word to the wise: use regular cans but remember to pack a can opener!). 

Want to share what's in YOUR kit? Check out the "30 Days, 30 Ways" site that challenges Prepare-A-Thon participants to complete preparedness tasks in a fun way. Task 8 asks folks to post the most unusual item in their emergency kit.

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