What happened in Arizona in early July of 2013 broke our hearts. 19 Heroes lost their lives trying to save a little town from being wiped off the face of the Earth from a wildfire.
The raging brush and forest fire that swept through Colorado’s Black Forest region just north of Colorado Springs also took some time to be 100 percent contained. That containment, unfortunately, meant that 509 homeowners saw their homes burnt to the ground or heavily damaged.
When residents are allowed back into the fire zone all they can do is sift through the ashes and assess the often-incalculable loss of a lifetime of irreplaceable mementos and precious family possessions. Thankfully, only two lives were lost, and firefighters once again struggled heroically to save 3,653 homes in the zone.
Family preparedness was on the minds of those who fled the area, but how much of that concern was too late? Nowadays, many families are opting to live in areas, both rural and suburban, that are subject to rapidly developing grass, brush or tree conflagrations that can move as fast as the hot summer wind.
If your family has chosen to live in a wooded or dry rural area, you should follow the advice of FEMAs U.S. Fire Administration and have a Fire Escape Plan and take some basic and sensible steps:
- Have a family disaster plan in place. Disasters strike quickly and often without warning. Ask your local Red Cross chapter for advice on preparing for each type of potential disaster. Talk with your family and rehearse evacuation plans.
- Be alert to react quickly. Have a battery-powered radio and listen for reports and updates on evacuation information. When you are advised to evacuate, do not delay. Unfortunately for a couple who died in the Black Forest, they lived on the edge of the mandatory evacuation area, and they received no evacuation call. They were found dead in their driveway as they reacted too slowly to escape the rapidly approaching fire.
- Prepare a fire emergency supply kit. If you’re told to leave, it will be on rather short notice and you’ll not have time to go shopping or search around the house for the necessities. You won’t remember everything you need as you race away from the fire danger. All you need are some basics until you can get to a family or friend’s house or find temporary lodging. Depending on how isolated your location and other circumstances, consider including minimally the following:
- A supply of bottled water.
- Protein bars and nonperishable snacks.
- A battery-powered radio and flashlight with plenty of extra batteries.
- A change of clothing, extra shoes, a blanket or sleeping bag.
- Extra car keys, cash and credit cards.
- Travel-sized hand-soap, shampoo, toothpaste and sundries.
- An extra pair of eye-glasses and a supply of medications and special items for pets, infants, the elderly, etc.
- A list of phone numbers for contacts, family and friends so you can get hold of them and let them know you need help or are okay.
Finally, gather up your important family documents and stow them in a waterproof container or zip-lock bag. It would be a good idea also to gather up a mini-version of your survival kit/bug-out bag and keep it in the trunk of your car.
There are lots of other precautions and preparations you can take in safeguarding your home from wildfires. But when those drought-starved pine trees start igniting with exploding sap and the fire spreads from treetop to treetop in the fast blowing wind and firestorm, your property is going to be overwhelmed.
For the sake of your family, if you live where fire can get to you, have a family preparedness plan in place. Sit down and discuss the details with your family so each member knows what to do and what is expected of them. Don’t depend on the government to do everything necessary to rescue you when the world is burning down around you. That’s your job and your family is depending on you.
Download my Paracord 101 Tips eBook for more ideas!
At *your* service,