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Fire safety key to National Preparedness Month

Sebastian Foltz
sfoltz@tahoedailytribune.com
Firefighter Roger Bangs, left, hoses down a burned-out area as Capt. Timothy Bingham assists following a wildfire days earlier, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015, in Middletown, Calif. As part of National Preperadness month, federal and state officials are reminding residents to be prepared in the event of a wildfire threatening the Tahoe Basin.
AP | AP

As part of National Preparedness Month, state and federal officials are making an effort to remind residents to be ready in the event of an emergency. With wildfires currently threatening thousands of acres of California land and a fire season that could extend deep into October, it’s an increasing concern.

“It’s so important to be prepared. That way you’re not scrambling at the last minute,” Lisa Herron, U.S. Forest Service public affairs specialist for the Lake Tahoe Basin, said. “People that live here, live in the forest. They need to be ready. It’s not a question of if. It’s a question of when.”

Herron said preparation starts with prevention, reminding locals how important it is to make sure their yards and houses are as fire safe as possible. Removing brush, dead branches and flammable vegetation is key. Whenever possible, creating space between houses and the forest is also recommended.

“This is something people need to do on a regular basis,” Herron said. “Homes that have defensible space are much easier to defend.”

Local fire districts offer free consultations and inspections to recommend fire safety measures.

Herron also suggested fireproof roofing, and using fireproof tarps to cover wood stacked close to a home.

The other key to preparation the Health and Human Services Agency and Forest Service encourage is to have an emergency plan in place should an evacuation be necessary. Households should also make a plan in the event of an evacuation. Knowing how to communicate with one another and where to go is important. Keep in mind cell phone communications may be difficult during such an event. Finally, it’s highly recommended people have an emergency kit at the ready. Among suggested items, the kit should include water and nonperishable food, a first aid kit, basic tools, important documents, a flashlight, radio, a change of cloths and solid shoes.

Herron said with a fire season that’s increasingly year round, these preparations are especially important.

“We need to be prepared. You need to have an evacuation plan in place.”

For more information on visit http://www.livingwithfire.info/tahoe.