This year's fire season could be the worst one, forecast-wise, in quite some time, according to Mike Morgan, director of the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control. A dry winter and spring have left our mountains nearly barren. While it's too early to predict exactly what the fire season will bring, the forecast is looking a little grim.
Is the public at risk? Often times, wildfires begin unnoticed. They spread quickly, leaving little time to pack and evacuate. Furthermore, wildfire threats to lives and property increase as more people build homes, operate business and recreate in areas where wildlands border more urban areas. While residents in these areas enjoy the beauty of the environment around them, they also face the very real danger of wildfires.
Despite the risk, everyone can take steps to prepare for wildfires. Important things everyone can do to be prepared in case of a natural disaster, such as a wildfire, include the following:
• Sign up with CodeRed to receive emergency notifications on your cell phone (see www.deltacounty.com/codered for details).
• Build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
• Know more than one exit route in case you have to evacuate.
• Plant fire-resistant shrubs and trees.
• Remove leaves and other debris from the roof and gutters.
• Inspect chimneys at least twice a year and clean them regularly.
• Use 1/8-inch mesh screen beneath porches, decks, floor areas, and the home itself to help keep embers out.
• Install a dual-sensor smoke alarm on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms. Be sure to test the alarms monthly and change the batteries at least once each year.
• Teach each family member how to use a fire extinguisher and show them where it's located.
• Clear items that will burn from around the house, including wood piles, wooden lawn furniture, tarp coverings, etc.
For more information about emergency planning, visit Delta County Emergency Management's website, www.deltacounty.com/em.