Health & Safety

June 21, 2013

Preparing to survive Wildfire season

Robert Kaschak
452 AMW Emergency Management technician

Southern California’s unique topography complemented with intense heat, dry soil, acts of nature and human carelessness, all combine to make it extremely vulnerable to wildfires. Every year we standby, ready to combat these demons of destruction. When not actually engaged in a response, firefighters train constantly to improve tactics, communication and working relationships. The drain on manpower, assets and critical resources is staggering and the devastation in the aftermath spans loss of life, homes and land.

The most recent wildfire in Colorado Springs’ Black Forest, has already burned more than 15,000 acres, destroyed more than 1,020 homes and taken two lives. Closer to home, a fire at the Carstens, near Yosemite Park, forced the evacuation of 700 families from their homes, burned 1880 acres. We know the reality and ramifications of wildfires. As responders, we do all in our power to promote awareness and preventive measures to protect the environment.

To augment standard preventive measures, 452d Emergency Management personnel suggest you be aware of additional measures to ensure family members stay safe during wildfires.

Before a wildfire

Reduce the risk by being prepared to protect your family, home, and property.

Families should discuss a plan of action to take if wildfires threaten the area.

Homeowners should design landscapes with wildfire safety in mind. Select materials and plants that can help contain fire rather than fuel it – plant fire-resistant shrubs and trees. Hardwood trees are less flammable than pine, evergreen, eucalyptus or fir trees.

Members should consider using fire-resistant or noncombustible materials on roofs and exterior structures of their dwellings. They should use fire-retardant chemicals evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories.

Regularly clean roof and gutters.

Inspect chimneys at least twice a year and clean them at least once a year. Keep the dampers in good working order. Equip chimneys and stovepipes with a spark arrester that meets the requirements of National Fire Protection Association Standard 211. Contact your local fire department for exact specifications.

Use one-eighth inch mesh screen beneath porches, decks, floor areas and the home itself. Also, screen openings to floors, roof and attic.

Install a dual-sensor smoke alarm on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms; test monthly and change the batteries at least once each year.

Teach each family member how to use a fire extinguisher, ABC type and show them where it’s kept.

Keep handy household items that can be used as fire tools such as a rake, axe, handsaw or chain saw, bucket or shovel. Keep a ladder that will reach the roof. Consider installing protective shutters or heavy, fire-resistant drapes.

Clear items that will burn from around the house, including woodpiles, lawn furniture, barbecue grills and tarp coverings — move them outside of your defensible space.

Plan your water needs

Identify and maintain an adequate outside water source such as a small pond, cistern, well, swimming pool or hydrant. It is a good idea to have a garden hose that is long enough to reach any area of the home and other structures on the property. Install freeze-proof exterior water outlets on at least two sides of the home and near other structures on the property to ensure for complete protective coverage – install additional outlets at least 50-feet from the home. Also, consider obtaining a portable gasoline powered water pump in case electrical power is cut off.

Your best resource for proper planning can be viewed at www.firewise.org, which has outstanding information used daily by residents, property owners, fire departments, community planners, builders, public policy officials, water authorities, architects and others to assure safety from fire. Fire-wise workshops are offered free nationwide and fire-wise materials can be obtained easily by anyone interested.

If you can command the recommendations above and feel comfortable about your fire preparation, you are off to a good start. No one can control the weather or the actions of others, but having a solid plan and instituting the preventive measures contained herein, will give you a much better chance for a successful outcome for you, your family and your home.

It is a long season. Let us make it through together, safely.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
HBI-photo

Fitness at a glance – It’s all about timing!

Ever notice how your anxiety tends to increase around your fitness assessment time (FA)? It is amazing that in 20 minutes (or less) your FA is over, but your anxiety level has cumulatively increased over the 30-90 days (or more...
 
 

Fourth of July fireworks safety tips

Many cities and communities in or near Riverside County provide spectacular fireworks displays for their residents. The operators of these displays are licensed and have permits issued by the State Fire Marshal. As a reminder (other than the licensed and permitted operators mentioned above), all fireworks (including sparklers) are illegal in Riverside County because they cause...
 
 
AFG-150601-013-(Ntl-Mens-Health-Week)

Website offers Airmen state-of-the-art medical, mental health support online

The Air Force Medical Service’s Center of Excellence for Medical Multimedia (CEMM) offers links to websites for Airmen and their families dealing with men’s health, and many, many other health issues from head to toe, inclu...
 

 

Men’s Health Month – focus on prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among American men. Most prostate cancers grow slowly, and don’t cause any health problems in men who have them. A prostate specific antigen (PSA) test may find a prostate health problem, but treatment can cause serious side effects. Learn about prostate cancer and talk to your doctor before...
 
 

Reduce your risk during National Safety Month

Injuries are a leading cause of disability for people of all ages – and they are the leading cause of death for Americans ages 1 to 44. The good news is everyone can get involved to help prevent injuries. During National Safety Month, the 452nd Air Mobility Wing safety office is spreading the word to...
 
 
holding_hands

Help available for those grieving the loss of a loved one

The death of a service member or family member can be a devastating experience, especially in our tight knit military community. Everybody is professionally or personally interrelated to everyone else, and at the end of the da...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>