Ah, how sweet is the rain from the long-awaited monsoons.
As the forest cools and the percentages of containment increase at our local fire, everyone is breathing sighs of relief.
This is not the time to get complacent, however. Our monsoons are often accompanied by numerous lightning strikes. New fires can begin any time and anywhere. While local fires are diminished, they are not completely out. We are still in the wildfire season and this is a good time to review evacuation procedures just in case.
• Determine meeting places and emergency contacts for family members.
• Provide meeting place and contact information to daycare providers, elder caregivers and/or teachers.
• Determine safe places for pets and livestock.
• Identify escape routes from the house and the property.
• Create or purchase an emergency disaster supply kit. Include a first aid kit, non-perishable food, potable water, flashlight and batteries.
• Pack a “to go bag” with toiletries, medications and a few days worth of clothes.
• Have important documents and/or mementos ready to go.
• Sign up for the Emergency Notification System (Reverse 911) at acemergency.org or by calling 731-4799.
Preparing to evacuate
• Dress to prevent burns; wear sturdy shoes, cotton or wool clothing, long pants, gloves, eye protection and a bandana to protect your face.
• Contact your neighbors and tell them about the fire.
• Park the car in the garage, facing out with the windows closed and the keys in the ignition. Do not leave the vehicle running.
• Close and unlock the garage door. Disconnect the automatic door opener.
• Place documents and mementos inside the car. Don’t forget home insurance information, your address book, computer hard drive, prescriptions and eyeglasses, cell phone charger, extra car keys and credit cards.
• Put your to go bag in the car.
• Confine pets to one room or inside pet carriers.
• Leave a note in your home with contact information.
If time allows — outside your home
• Shut off propane or natural gas valves.
• Move excess gasoline or propane bottles to open areas.
• Attach garden hoses to spigots and place them so they can reach any area of your house.
• Fill trashcans and buckets with water and place them outside where firefighters can find them.
• Place a ladder against the house, opposite the approaching fire.
• Cover windows and other openings with fire resistant materials.
If time allows — inside your home
• Move combustible deck furniture inside the home or garage.
• Close all windows and doors to prevent sparks from blowing inside.
• Remove curtains or drapes. If you have metal blinds or fire resistant window coverings, close them.
• Turn on room lights and porch lights for visibility through smoke.
• Move stuffed furniture away from windows and walls.
• Let authorities know of neighbors needing assistance.
• Use pre-planned routes away from the approaching fire front.
• If you are trapped by fire while evacuating in your car, park in an area clear of vegetation. Close the windows and vents, cover yourself with a blanket or jacket and lie on the floor.
• If you are trapped by fire while evacuating on foot, select an area clear of vegetation along a road or lie in the road ditch. Cover exposed skin. Stay low; fire travels fast uphill.
• If you are trapped by wildfire inside your home, stay away from outside walls. Close doors, but leave them unlocked. Keep your entire family together and remain calm.
Bill Trimarco is Archuleta County Ambassador Coordinator, FireWise of Southwest Colorado. Contact: 264-0430, firstname.lastname@example.org, southwestcoloradofires.org.