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Paul E. Anna: High Points

Paul E. Anna
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

It’s still March and yet there are wildfires in Denver, the temps are expected to soar into the upper 70s tomorrow here in the high country and looking across the Pacific, there seems to be little rain in the forecast. This, after a winter that saw snowpack at less than half of what we would like.

While the sun feels good on the face and the golfers and bikers are happy to hit the links and the trails, the pattern is worrisome and fire season could be a bear. As one who lost a house in a wildfire that roared through southern California years ago, I am particularly sensitive to the devastation, havoc and life alteration that these events can reek.

So with that thought in mind I thought this might be a good time to remind you of a few things that you can do now to be prepared in the event that the hills were to come alive this summer. First and foremost, check your insurance policies. Start by calling your insurance agent and see what it is that you have coverage for. Is it cash value or replacement costs? Do you have a policy that has been updated to cover the possessions in your house and the things you have bought since you purchased the policy? What are you covered for if your house burns in terms of housing? This process can be complicated but if the worst happens, it is good to know that your premium payments have been worth it.

Next, figure out an emergency plan for meeting your family and friends in the event of a fire. Cell phones can be a boon or a bane in an emergency situation. We rely on them but in major events they can let us down if service gets taxed. The good news is you can create an emergency document and store it on your phone with everyone’s telephone number and addresses of where to meet in an evacuation situation. You should have the number of a point person out of the area who all family members can contact as well.

And consider just how you would get you, your family and your pets out of your home if a fire was just around the corner. If you have horses, think about what stables you could take them to. If you have dogs and cats are they OK in the car or do you need to have portable kennels to transport them? How about pet food? And how many ways are there out of your neighborhood? A wind blown fire up Smuggler that forced evacuations would jam the roads of Red Mountain and McSkimming and make it difficult to get out. Do you have an alternative? Finally, look around your property for obvious fire hazards. Make sure your gutters are cleared of debris as a spark can turn last season’s leaves into an inferno. Check for low hanging branches that lean over the roof of your house. The fire department requests a 30-foot perimeter that is cleared of vegetation around a home. This not only helps keep the flames away but also gives firefighters a fighting chance to protect your home from a fire.

Finally, the most important number you can know is 911. If you see a fire or smoke this summer, call and report it quickly.

Ideally, you will not be impacted in this or any other fire season. But if you are it is better to be the person with the answers than the person asking the questions.


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