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Wildfire Prevention, Preparedness, and Recovery

Wildfire in the Rogue Valley

Did you know that much of the Rogue Valley is a fire-adapted ecosystem? This means that fires are a natural and important part of where we live. However, due to shifting climatic conditions, changes in fire management practices, and expansion of human communities, too often wildfires are burning larger, hotter, and posing a significant threat to our communities and ecosystems.

Wildfire Prevention

While wildfires are naturally occurring events, did you know that nearly 85% of wildfires are started by humans (National Park Service)?! This outstanding statistic means that the best thing we all can do to help prevent wildfires is avoid actions that start them!

Here are a few ways to help prevent wildfires from starting:

-Check for burn bans for campfires, home burn piles, and fireworks before any activity.

-Douse campfires with water and stir ashes multiple times; do not leave a campsite until a fire is completely cold.

-Keep sparks away from dry vegetation: don’t use fire sources when it’s windy; don’t drive on dry grass; never throw burning cigarettes out the window.

-Maintain equipment and vehicles to prevent sparks.

Additionally, many large fires have been started by agricultural activities, such as field mowing or soil cultivation. While agricultural activities are exempt from most fire season restrictions, it’s important to take all necessary precautions when engaging in farming practices during fire season. Have water and other firefighting tools on hand during work and set up a fire patrol to watch for ignitions after work is complete.

For more information:

Prevent Wildfire Ignition, Department of Interior: https://www.doi.gov/blog/10-tips-prevent-wildfires

Natural Park Service Statistic: https://www.nps.gov/articles/wildfire-causes-and-evaluation.htm#

Preparedness and Prevention Starts at Home

Defensible space and home hardening are the two key words for helping prevent damage to your home. Not only do these actions help protect your home, they also help protect others by reducing wildfire spread and intensity.

One of the most important things you can do to try to reduce wildfire impact on your home is to create and maintain defensible space. Key actions to create defensible space are:

-Clear dead and dry plant material from around, under, and on top of your home (at least 10 feet)

 -Keep grass green and moist or cut short

-Store flammable materials such as propane or firewood at least 30 feet from your house

-Trim any tree limbs within 30 feet of your home to be 6 to 10 feet above the ground

-Cover exterior vent openings with wire mesh no larger than 1/8 inch

-Design landscaping with fire prevention in mind, e.g. select fire resistant plants, create fire breaks

You can also work on home hardening: building or retrofitting your home to use fire-resistant materials and design. Key elements you can harden include roofing materials and design, wall siding materials, and windows.

Learn more at the resources below:

https://www.readyforwildfire.org/

https://wildfirerisk.org/reduce-risk/home-hardening/

How Does Defensible Space Really Work? Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal

Jackson County Fire District 3 Wildfire Preparedness

The 7 Ps of Preparedness

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Being properly prepared to leave your home in case of evacuation is critical to help ensure your safety and those of your loved ones. Being properly prepared also helps reduce pressure on emergency response efforts and can help in the recovery process.

The acronym the 7 Ps, covers the essentials you need to have prepared in case of evacuation under the threat of wildfire, as well as other natural disasters.

People: Have a plan in place for how you will gather the people on your property and how you will exit your neighborhood safely. Think through potential exit routes, evacuation sites you can go to, and addressing potential obstacles such as traffic or blocked roads.

Pets: Make a plan for evacuating your pets; you may want to relocate larger pets well in advance.

Prescriptions: Keep a supply of essential medication on hand.

Paperwork: Store all essential information in a one spot ready to go, e.g. birth certificates, passports, insurance policies, and property deeds.

Pictures: Take date-stamped photos of your household items and property, including model and serial numbers when provided; these photos will be critical for the insurance processes should your home burn.

Personal computer: Gather your personal computer and any important external hard drives or software. Keep backups of critical documents and your photos of your property on one of these items or in cloud software systems.

Phone: Prepare additional car charging cables and a backup battery for your phone and try to keep it well-charged in advance of a potential evacuation.

It is very wise to have a go bag prepared with the items above, as well as additional items that can help you sustain yourself in the days following an emergency even if resources are limited. Additional items for a go bag are water, food, first aid, sturdy shoes, extra clothing for varied weather, flashlight, pocketknife, map, portable radio, pet care, hygiene items, and money (cash and cards).

Resources to help prepare:

Jackson County Fire District 3 Wildfire Preparedness

https://www.cityofamericancanyon.org/home/showpublisheddocument/17810/637123682833900000

https://www.newportoregon.gov/emergency/documents/GoBagChecklist.pdf

https://www.jswcd.org/family-emergency-preparedness-handbook-get-ready-rogue 

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