If you live in Valley Center or the surrounding area, you know we tend to think of fire season as in the fall, after a long hot summer with little or no rain. However, when asked about his predictions for the “coming” fire season, Chief Joe Napier smiled and responded, “In our area, if it’s not raining, it’s ‘always’ fire season.” With that in mind, it’s important to always be prepared and ready to act if the need arises. Good advice!
But since our “traditional” fire season is right around the corner, it’s also important to note what we can expect weather-wise. Chief Napier said, according to the weather predictions from the experts, we can expect a hotter, drier and windier fall than average, which does not bode well for fire safety. However, since the Chief takes their advice to heart, he makes sure all his personnel is well educated and trained to best handle whatever comes up.
Of course, his job also is to make sure the public is prepared through community education and by providing real-life tools to insure safety in the event of a wildfire. So, the best thing we can do is follow the advice from someone who knows what he’s talking about. Here are a few of the recommendations Chief Napier shared:
- Register your cell phone with http://readysandiego.org/ to receive reverse 911 calls.
- Make a plan. Since your family may not be together when a disaster happens, it is important to have a plan already in place so you will know how you will contact one another; how you will get back together; and what you will do in different situations. A template is available at http://readysandiego.org/make-a-plan/.
- Build a kit. Use a clear large, tub that is easily transportable to store necessary emergency items for your family (including pets) in the event you have to evacuate. Items include medications, personal care items, comfort items, non-perishable food, water, flashlight/batteries, blanket, small tools, etc. For a checklist of items and their purpose, please click here.
- Protect your home. Maintain a 100-foot clear radius of combustible vegetation around your structure(s). Make sure smoke alarms are present and test regularly. For information on defensible space, click here.
- Protect important papers. Scan important papers and save on a thumb drive or in a “cloud.” Give a thumb drive to a non-resident family member/friend to safeguard or use a safety deposit box. (Fireproof safes are not always adequate.)
- Pets/animals. If you have pets and/or other animals at home, and you’re not, when a fire strikes, notify the Fire Department and/or Sheriff’s Department. They work closely with the Department of Animal Services to help protect our “other family members.”
- Be safety conscious. Be aware of your surroundings and use caution when doing anything that might generate sparks or cause a fire.
- Get involved. Join/support CERT, DAS VC DART and other local Emergency Response Teams to help serve your community.
- Obey fire evacuations. Evacuate immediately if instructed to do so. Your life, or the life of someone else, may depend on it. Most things are replaceable, YOU are not!
For more safety information and hands-on experience, be sure and come to the Valley Center Fire Protection District’s Fire Safety Exposition on October 8th from 10 am – 4 pm at Bates Nut Farm in Valley Center.