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.


 
 

 
U.S. Air Force photo/Megan Crusher

Air Force JROTC cadets graduate Summer Leadership School

U.S. Air Force photo/Megan Crusher Air Force JROTC cadets from Rancho Verde High School in Moreno Valley and Arlington High School in Riverside, graduate from a two week Summer Leadership School, held at March Air Reserve Base,...
 
 
U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Russell S. McMillan

Airmen attend second annual Norton-March reunion

U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Russell S. McMillan Senior Master Sgt. Paul Mitt, detachment chief, 163rd Reconnaissance Wing, answers questions about the MQ-9 Reaper at March Air Reserve Base on June 20. Members of the Nort...
 
 
Halle-Berry

Halle Berry Connects With the U.S. Military

Halle Berry stars in the Science-Fiction show “Extant,” which just began its second season. Finding out someone values and appreciates what you do can keep you floating at cloud level for weeks, especially when the someone ...
 

 
Courtesy photo

Charles “Chuck” Flood, Satellite Services, Inc., passed away unexpectedly, June 17, 2015

Courtesy photo Chuck Flood: March 16, 1963 – June 17, 2015 Flood had been employed by SSI since February, 2005. He had been the fire truck mechanic, responsible for over 15 fire fighting vehicles at Edwards Air Force Base and...
 
 
Watchara Phomicinda — LA Daily News staff  photographer

March honor guard gives final honors to America’s veterans

(Final in a two-part series on honor guard, reprinted with permission) Watchara Phomicinda — LA Daily News staff photographer Brittarose Morgan, 77, right, wife of the late Airman First Class Roland Morgan with daughter, Kym ...
 
 
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...
 




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>