As the hot and dry weather combined with the current state-wide drought have placed San Diego on high alert this fire season, I want to do everything I can as your state legislator to help you and your family prepare in case of a wildfire. Like many of you, I’ve faced the fear and uncertainty of being forced to evacuate my home during fire season and worked with my neighbors to rebuild our communities after the devastation.
Based on research that American Red Cross conducted, only 7% of households in San Diego County are prepared for a disaster. I want to ensure that you have access to the available resources that can help you and your families prevent fires and be prepared in case of an emergency so that together we can stay safe this fire season.
Our office would be happy to provide you with complimentary emergency planning and recovery guides, please give us a call at (619) 596-3136 if you would like a copy. I also wanted to share with you these tips from the American Red Cross that I hope are helpful to you:
Get A Kit
Photo courtesy of American Red Cross
Your kit should include at least: water, food (non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items), flashlight, battery–powered or hand–crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible), extra batteries, first aid kit, medications, multi–purpose tool, sanitation and personal hygiene items, copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies), cell phone with chargers, family and emergency contact information, extra cash, emergency blanket, and map(s) of the area.
Make A Plan
Photo courtesy of American Red Cross
Meet with your family or household members to discuss how to prepare and respond to emergencies that are most likely to happen where you live, learn, work and play. Identify responsibilities for each member of your household and plan to work together as a team. If a family member is in the military, plan how you would respond in the case of deployment.
Plan what to do in case you are separated during an emergency. Choose two places to meet:
- Right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, such as a fire.
- Outside your neighborhood, in case you cannot return home or are asked to evacuate.
Choose an out–of–area emergency contact person. It may be easier to text or call long distance if local phone lines are overloaded or out of service. Everyone should have emergency contact information in writing or saved on their cell phones.
Former City Attorney Casey Gwinn & the Salvation Army to the rescue during 2007 Harris Fire
- Identify how local authorities will notify you during a disaster and how you will get information, whether through local radio, TV or NOAA Weather Radio stations or channels.
- When a major disaster occurs, your community can change in an instant. Loved ones may be hurt and emergency response is likely to be delayed. Make sure that at least one member of your household is trained in first aid and CPR and knows how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED). This training is useful in many emergency situations.
- Share what you have learned with your family, household and neighbors and encourage them to be informed.
- Print emergency contact cards for all household members.
- Write the contact information for each household member, such as work, school and cell phone numbers.
- Fold the card so it fits in your pocket, wallet or purse and carry the card with you so it is available in the event of a disaster or other emergency.
Wildfires often begin unnoticed. However, they spread quickly and every second counts! Talk with members of your household about wildfires—how to prevent them and what to do if one occurs.
- Post emergency phone numbers by every phone in your home.
- Make sure driveway entrances and your house number or address are clearly marked.
- Identify and maintain an adequate water source outside your home, such as a small pond, cistern, well or swimming pool.
- Select building materials and plants that resist fire.
- Regularly clean roofs and gutters.
- Create defensible space around property by cleaning roof and gutters and mowing dry grass and weeds.
- Trim branches and remove dead limbs, leaves, and other litter.
The biggest disaster threat to families every day isn’t floods, earthquakes or tornadoes, it’s fire. You can take steps to minimize the risk of home fires by remembering two key fire safety tips: install a smoke alarm and develop a fire escape plan. Home fires can start quickly and without warning, devastating lives and property. But while home fires are a serious concern, the good news is that people can take steps to reduce their risk.
- Make sure you have a smoke alarm on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas.
- Test your smoke alarm once a month by pushing the test button, and replace the batteries at least once a year.
- Create an escape plan. Home fire escape plans should include at least two ways to escape from every room of your home. Make sure to select a meeting spot a safe distance from your home where family members can meet after escaping. After discussing your plan with all members of your household, practice the plan twice a year.
The Red Cross also recommends other simple steps to help prevent fires:
Michael Miller trucking water, Angela Harbin Off-Loading the Truck with military efficiency, regretfully the volunteer with back to us is unidentified & Joel Anderson on truck at the Dulzura Shelter during the 2007 wildfires.
- Keep all sources of fuel (paper, clothing, bedding, and carpets or rugs) at least three feet away from all heat sources when cooking, or using alternative heating like a space heater.
- Don’t leave the kitchen while you’re frying, grilling or broiling food, and don’t leave home if you’re simmering, baking, boiling or roasting food.
- Keep matches and lighters away from and out of reach of children.
Education on fire prevention is a priority now more than ever, and I hope you find this information helpful. If a friend or family member would be interested in this information, please feel free to share this email with them. If this email was forwarded to you and you would like to sign up to receive helpful alerts from my office in the future, please subscribe here.
It’s an honor to serve you,