Wildfire Season is Coming… Are You Ready?
It’s not a question of if, but when, the next major wildland fire will occur. Through advanced planning, understanding, and preparation we can all be partners in the wildland fire solution.
If you live next to a dense vegetation area, the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI), you should provide firefighters with the defensible space they need to protect your home. Create a buffer zone by removing weeds, brush, and other vegetation. This helps keep the fire away from your home and reduces the rise of flying embers. After you have done everything you can to prepare your home, it is time to prepare your family. Get ready for wildfire by downloading the CAL FIRE Wilfire Preparedness App
Use the following checklists to help prepare and gain situational awareness in the threat of a wildland fire:
1. Get READY!
Create a Defensible Space:
- Dispose of or relocate combustible material from around your home. Remove dead or dry leaves and pine needles from your yard, roof and gutters.
- Trim trees and bushes allowing ample space between your home and any vegetation. Keep tree branches 10 feet away from your chimney and other trees. Create horizontal and vertical spacing between grass, shrubs and trees.
2. Get SET!
Create an Evacuation Plan:
- Arrange a ‘Go-kit’ with prescription medication, emergency supplies, important documents, and other essential items.
- Create your own action plan; involve your family, and practice exit plans from you home and neighborhood often so everyone is familiar in case of emergency.
- Be sure you’re familiar with local emergency notification systems and evacuation systems.
- Have an evacuation plan for pets and large animals such as horses and other livestock.
- Create a communication plan designating an out of area friend or relative as a point of contact to act as a single source of communication among family members in case of separation. (It is easier to call or message one person and let them contact others than to try and call everyone when phone, cell, and internet systems can be overloaded or limited during a disaster.)
- Get your ‘Go-kit’ and leave well before the threat approaches following a planned access route.
- Stay aware of the situation and follow your plan.
- Cooperate with local authorities during evacuation and re-entry processes.
Remember the Six “P’s”
Keep the Six “P’s” Ready in Case Immediate Evacuation is Required:
- People and pets.
- Papers, phone numbers, and important documents.
- Prescriptions, vitamins, and eyeglasses.
- Pictures and irreplaceable memorabilia.
- Personal computer hard drive and disks.
- “Plastic” (credit cards, ATM cards) and cash.
Safe Debris Burning
While creating Defensible Space and ridding your land of dead and dying vegetation is critical, residents are asked to use extreme caution when burning. With proper permits, dry vegetation grown on your property can be burned.
Green vegetation should be dried 3-6 weeks before burning. Debris burning is encouraged during winter and spring months while conditions are wet and fire danger is very low. Consider alternatives to burning, such as: composting, chipping and shredding, or green waste pickup from your local disposal company.
If a debris burn escapes your control, you should seek help immediately. A fast response from the fire department can reduce suppression cost considerably.
Remember, you may be billed for suppression costs and the sooner you seek help, the better the outcome may be.
Requirements for Debris Burning:
- Check with your fire agency for burn permit requirements.
- Burn a maximum pile size of 4 feet in diameter.
- Clear all flammable material and vegetation within 10 feet of the outer edge of the pile.
- A water supply is required at the burning site and must be ready to use.
- An adult must be on hand with a shovel until the fire is dead out.
- No burning shall be undertaken unless weather conditions are such that burning can be considered safe.
- Dry, natural vegetation grown on the property can be burned outdoors in open piles, unless prohibited by local ordinances.
- Household garbage and construction debris cannot be burned.
- Burning can be done only on permissive burn days; you must call prior to igniting your burn pile.
- Burn Permits are valid only on permissive burn days as determined by the State Air Resources Board or the local Air Pollution Control District.
- CAL Fire Burn Permits are now available online.