High Points: Be prepared | AspenTimes.com

High Points: Be prepared

I was never a Boy Scout but I always have admired their motto. It’s simple, it’s direct and it gives clear advice that nobody can argue with. And now that Stage II Fire Restrictions are officially in place here in Pitkin County it is a motto to which we all should adhere. It is time to be prepared.

The Stage II restrictions went into effect at the second the clock struck 12:01 this morning. They state that all “fires, campfires or charcoal grills” are prohibited as are fireworks and explosives, smoking outside, torches with open flames or equipment that does not have spark arrestors. Basically, if it can spark a flame don’t do it. That should be pretty obvious.

There are, of course, fines for those who violate the ban but that’s not really the point. It’s not about not getting caught while grilling some tasty ribs over a charcoal grill that you’re sure you can keep an eye on, or smoking that cigar only on the golf course because the grass is too green to burn. It is about having the sense to do the right thing for all of us – including yourself. Kind of like wearing a mask. The potential of a fine should not have to be the motivating factor.

If you need to know why the restrictions are in effect, just cast an eye to the west where, not far from here in Glenwood Springs, plumes of smoke explode in the winds each afternoon. If you were here the summer before last you know that Basalt and the surrounding area dodged a bullet in a fire that burnt for months after being caused by human negligence. And if you were here in 1994, you know that 14 brave firefighters lost their lives battling a mid–summers blaze. How’s all of that for motivation?

This is shaping up to be one of the hottest, driest and potentially windiest weeks of the already very dry summer. Temps in the 90s with little to no chance of rain is expected. We are 40% below average in our precipitation to date. Town is packed to the gills and Independence Pass, one of our two egresses out of town, is already closed which means the only way out of the Valley is to head down Hwy 82 to 133 south or I-70 west. A fire could be very problematic.

Which brings me back to the Boy Scouts. This is the time to be prepared. To have a plan of attack in the event of a fire. The Aspen Fire Protection District has, on their website, a downloadable guide called “Your Wildfire Action Guide.” Download it and make a plan. Plan what you should take. Plan where you will go. Plan how you will communicate. Plan your mode of escape. It may take some time, but it is worth it.

There is nothing like being prepared. Stay safe.

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