With historically dry conditions and above normal temperatures predicted to last throughout the summer, the threat of wildfires and extreme weather events is upon us again this year. In preparation for this fire season, SCP has put together a series of actions that residents can take to better protect their homes and themselves from wildfires and power shutoffs.
During a wildfire or public safety power shutoff (PSPS) event, it is important to have multiple modes of communication to stay updated on the latest news and evacuation orders. Telephone lines and cell towers can lose signal or be destroyed, which can prevent your mobile devices from working. To ensure you have access to information during an emergency:
Sign up for SoCoAlert (Sonoma County) or MendoAlert (Mendocino County) emergency notifications.
Make sure that your contact information is up to date on your PG&E account.
Have a portable radio ready and extra batteries on hand.
If you use social media, follow your city’s or county’s account(s) and/or your local Fire Department or Fire District.
Establish a phone tree of family members, friends, or neighbors who can regularly check in with you throughout an emergency.
HAVE A PLAN
Knowing where you plan to evacuate and what you are bringing with you can make a big difference during an emergency.
Know your evacuation route. Identify at least two exit routes from your neighborhood.
Keep a go-bag, flashlights, and respirator mask (N95 or higher) on hand.
Have an inside space where you can deploy an air cleaner or filter.
If you have pets, keep their carriers, food, medicines, and any other supplies in an easily accessible place.
Gather important documents and valuable items and make them easily accessible.
Consider ahead of time where you plan to go if your home must be evacuated (e.g., local evacuation center, a friend or family member’s home, a hotel).
Teach each family member how to use a fire extinguisher and show them where it is kept.
Maintain at least a three-day supply of drinking water and food that does not require refrigeration or cooking.
Keep devices charged and have backup batteries and chargers ready.
BEFORE YOU LEAVE - AID FIRST RESPONDERS
Keep household items that can be used as fire tools easily accessible, including a rake, axe, handsaw or chain saw, bucket, and shovel.
Keep a ladder that will reach the roof.
Clear flammable items from around the house, including wood piles, lawn furniture, barbecue grills, tarp coverings, etc. Move them outside of your defensible space.
Stack firewood at least 100 feet away and uphill from your home and clear any combustible material within 20 feet.
If applicable, identify an adequate outside water source such as a small pond, cistern, well, swimming pool, or hydrant.
Have a garden hose that is long enough to reach any area of the home and other structures on the property.
Close all shutters, blinds, or heavy non-combustible window coverings to reduce radiant heat.
Close all doors inside the house to prevent draft.
Shut off any natural gas, propane, or fuel oil supplies at the source.
Disconnect any automatic garage door openers so that doors can still be opened by hand if the power goes out and close all garage doors.
CREATE DEFENSIBLE SPACE
To slow or stop the spread of wildfire and protect your home from embers, direct flame contact, or radiant heat, you will need to create defensible space. It is currently required by law that homes have 100 feet of defensible space around them, with the 0-5 feet closest to your home being the most important area to reduce fire fuels.