Wildfire Ready 101: What to do if you need to evacuate
Wildfire Ready 101
By far the question that comes up most when I’m speaking about wildfire concerns to the community is: What is our evacuation plan? Where am I to go if an evacuation is called?
Although we cannot predict exactly where you might have to go during an ordered evacuation, we can tell you how to get the most timely information so that you can be directed to a location based on the emergency at hand. In other words, your evacuation location will depend on the current and future hazards of the emergency.
I can assure you that all of the emergency service agencies in the Roaring Fork Valley have coordinated and planned several evacuation locations in an effort to make sure that we act in the best interest of your safety, but we need you to be prepared and ready ahead of time.
Should emergency services need to call for an evacuation, our orders should complement your own plan. Choose two locations that family members can meet if an evacuation order is given. One area should be in a community further away, that likely wouldn’t be impacted by the same situation. The other can be a more local meeting place. Discuss this ahead of time. Everyone might not be home when an evacuation is ordered.
Have a “Go Kit” packed and ready that will allow you to survive for 72 hours, or three days, on your own. Check out http://www.pitkinemergency.org to learn more about what should be included in your survival kit. Make sure a battery-powered radio with fresh batteries is a part of your kit.
It is important to know where to get the most accurate information during an emergency. My best advice is to sign up for Pitkin Alert at http://www.pitkinemergency.org to receive free text, email, voice and pager alerts.
This system is essential and especially important if you do not have a landline telephone. We will use the Pitkin Alert system in conjunction with “reverse 911” for landline phones and Emergency Alert System for TV and radio.
If you have access to the Internet during an emergency, http://www.pitkinemergency.org will provide you the most current information.
When in doubt, don’t wait for an evacuation order to leave. The Fire Department and all of Pitkin County’s emergency services will do everything in our power to notify residents and guests of evacuations, but if you feel that your home or life is in danger, leave immediately.
One final thought: Many of us are animal lovers, so please make preparations for your pets, and when possible, take your pets with you in the unlikely event of an evacuation. Understand that only service animals are permitted in most public shelters, so think about some solutions to care for your animals ahead of time. A very good website to reference concerning pet care during an emergency is http://www.ready.gov/caring-animals.
John T. Mele is the deputy chief/fire marshal of the Snowmass Wildcat Fire Protection District. Reach him at 970-923-2212 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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