May is National Wildfire Awareness Month
The memories of the 2020 Clackamas wildfires are a harsh reminder of the danger these disasters pose.
Follow along this month for ways to protect your family, home & community the next time a wildfire strikes.
Week 1 – Stay Informed
RSVP and plan to attend a Community Wildfire Preparedness Session.
Take our Community Wildfire Protection survey that will help Clackamas County prepare for any future wildfires.
Sign up for Public Alerts to ensure you receive life-saving alerts about evacuations and other emergencies. Sign up for your work, home, school addresses and anywhere you recreate. Make sure family and friends who don't live in your household are signed up for Public Alerts. If you have already signed up for Public Alerts, log back into your account and make sure your information is up to date. Tag at least two friends using your favorite social media platform encouraging them to sign-up for Public Alerts.
Develop a communications plan with anyone you live with, loved ones and care takers so you know how you will communicate with each other during an emergency. Collect phone numbers and emails for everyone in your household. Identify local and out-of-area contacts. Download a plan template.
Make sure your cell phone is set up to receive emergency alerts. This may include turning on your location setting. Setting up your phone to receive emergency alerts varies based on your cell phone model. If you have questions, check with your cell phone carrier.
Follow @ClackamasCounty, @ClackamasCountyDM, @ClackCoSheriff and @PublicAlerts on Facebook and Twitter for tips on preparing for wildfires and emergencies and for information during an emergency.
Get to know your neighbors. In major emergencies, about 90% of initial help are done neighbors and community members. Get to know the people around you so you can help each other during an emergency. Learn more about building community.
Locate your battery, hand-cranked or solar-powered AM/FM radio so you can keep up to date on what's happening around town during an emergency. Learn more about staying informed during an emergency.
Week 2 – Create an Emergency Plan
Create an emergency plan. This week, plan what you will do in an emergency if you need to evacuate. If you have children in your household, learn about age-appropriate ways to include them in your preparedness planning.
Know evacuation levels and what they mean. These evacuation levels are used across the state for all types of emergencies.
Agree on several meeting places in case you and your household are evacuated or separated. Write these down in your plan.
Include your pets and animals in your emergency plan. If you have to evacuate, do not leave pets and animals at home. Make sure pets are licensed, tagged and microchipped. Know how you would evacuate them and have a shelter plan for your pets. Keep medical and vaccination records for both pets and livestock in your emergency kit. If you have livestock, plan for where they would go and how you will move your livestock to a safe location if you have to evacuate. Determine a backup plan if you can't bring your animals to a shelter. More tips are available.
If your household includes children, older adults or people living with disabilities, include their needs in your emergency plans. If you need to evacuate, you may need additional time. Consider mobility assistance needs and medical equipment charging if you are on the road or in the case of a power outage. Write down a list of all your medications including information about your diagnosis, dosage, frequency and allergies. Put a copy of that list with your emergency kit.
Think about what children may need for their daily needs and comfort. If it’s age-appropriate ask for their help in identifying these needs.
Be prepared for planned power outages to prevent wildfires. Determine how you will cook, stay connected, stay cool and charge your medical devices if the power is shut off at your home for several days. More tips are available.
Print your plan and practice it. Travel to your meeting places. Practice various routes. Double-check the contact numbers you added to the plan last week by calling or texting your contacts.
Put the finishing touches on your plan, make copies for everyone who lives with you and celebrate completing such a big project this week!
Week 3 – Defend Your Home
Give your home a better chance of surviving a wildfire by slowing the spread of flames. Create a buffer, called a defensible space, between your home, nearby buildings, and surrounding grass, trees, shrubs, and other wildland. Identify home ignition zones on your property. These zones include the immediate zone (zero to five feet around the house), intermediate zone (five to 30 feet), and the extended zone (30 to 100 feet). Learn more about protecting your home.
Make sure your home and driveway has clearly marked address numbers and your driveway is at least 26 feet in width to allow emergency vehicles to access your property.
Create your to-do list to remove flammable materials from the fire ignition zones on your property. Make a plan to do this work during the week and ask friends and neighbors to help you prepare your home. View a sample to-do list.
Talk with your neighbors about becoming a Firewise Community to further protect your community from wildfires.
Gather tools and supplies that you will need to tackle you to-do list of clearing a defensible space at your home tomorrow. Consider using fire resistant plants.
Spend the day tackling your to-do list to create a defensible space.
Finish creating a defensible space at your home and celebrate with some lemonade or your favorite ice cream as you admire the efforts of your hard work.
You may be directed to evacuate your home at any time during a disaster. This week, spend more time understanding the various evacuation levels and pack your emergency kit in case you do need to evacuate. Here is a reminder of the evacuation levels.
Week 4 – Pack Your Emergency Kit
Download an emergency supply list, take stock of what you currently have and what you may need to gather. Plan to gather enough supplies to last you two weeks this includes water, food, hygiene items and other basic needs.
Determine where you will store your emergency kit and keep it in a place that is easy to access in case you need to evacuate immediately.
Include important documents and sentimental items to your kit. Important documents such as passports, birth certificates, identification, marriage license, insurance information, etc. Pack cash and credit cards, items for kids and pets. Include copies of special photos or other sentimental items.
Take this time to make sure you have extra medications, eyeglasses and comfort items packed in your kit.
Review your recently completed emergency plan and practice traveling to the meeting places you and your household will go in case you are required to evacuate. Take many different routes out of your community so you will not be dependent on GPS or even main routes during an emergency. Consider bringing your emergency kit with you as you go on this practice run.
Now that your emergency kit is packed, add a reminder to your calendar to restock and refresh your kit, once every six months.
Week 5 – Wrap Up and Review
As you honor and celebrate Memorial Day, say hi to your neighbors and see if they need any help wrapping up their wildfire preparedness plans.
Put the finishing touches on your emergency plan and kits. As you make plans for summer, think about how you can limit ignition of wildfires such as to celebrating holidays without the use of fireworks and practicing fire safety when camping.