On Talk of the Bay June 23, 2020, Christine Barrington interviews two local advocates for wildfire preparedness: Liz Anne Jensen of the Santa Cruz Fire Safe Council Executive Committee and Angie Gruys from the Resource Conservation District. Together they will explore a multitude of angles related to fire preparedness, which has intensified along with climate disruption. Becoming Fire Wise is a personal and collective necessity as our weather patterns shift. Fire Safe Santa Cruz stresses being empowered rather than scared. Liz Anne will share her personal experience with emergency fire evacuations and will offer clear suggestions for fire hardening our homes, evacuations lists, neighborhood preparedness, and updating fire insurance.
Prepare Your Surroundings
Fire Safe Santa Cruz has clear and detailed suggestions for creating defensible space around your home. While you can do much to prepare your personal property for fire safety, you are only as safe as your immediate vicinity. Enlist your neighbors to thin nearby trees and clean up forest areas. Angie Gruys will share details of the Resource Conservation District’s neighborhood chipping program, fuel management, and overall forest health in relationship to helping communities reduce their wildfire risk. If you and a group of neighbors wish to take advantage of this program, follow this link: No Cost Chipping Program
To truly be Fire Safe plant must cleared away from the edges of our homes. For those seeking ideas on how to do this aesthetically, follow this Pinterest link: Hardscaping Ideas
Prepare for Evacuating:
In the event of a wildfire, there is little time to think things through. The Fire Safe Council offers the Prepared Not Scared: Fire Preparation and Evacuation Worksheet Wildfire Preparation and Emergency Evacuation Guide. This is a Step-by-Step Guide to Preparing and Protecting Your Family, Pets and Property from the Threat of Wildfire, including Evacuation Preparation and Safety Guidelines.
Prepare your Neighborhood:
Firewise USA ® is a voluntary program that provides a framework to help neighbors get organized, find direction, and take action to increase the ignition resistance of their homes and community. This program includes ideas for increasing community resilience, streamlining evacuation plans, marking streets clearly to assist outside firefighters, and looking out for disabled or elderly neighbors. If your home address is not clearly marked, follow this link for ideas related to increasing visibility of signage: Signage Ideas
Prepare to be Notified:
Reverse 911 is a public alert system most frequently used by safety organizations to alert individuals and businesses to the risk of danger by sending a recorded voice message to landline telephones and registered cellphones within a defined geographical area. Wireless telephone numbers are not automatically included in databases used for emergency notification and must be submitted to counties with cellular capability on a voluntary basis at this time. To register: see below:
Click on either link above to register your cellular or VOIP phone in the Emergency Notification system used by Santa Cruz Regional 9-1-1 personnel. The CodeRED notification system sends important messages to residents and businesses within Santa Cruz & San Benito Counties in the event of emergency situations or critical community alerts. The system has the capability of sending thousands of messages in a very short time based on the geographic location of an incident. Examples of notifications include evacuations, bio-terrorism alerts, missing person reports, and severe weather alerts. (NOTE: If you are having issues enrolling your contact information into CodeRED, try using a different web browser.)
Prepare for Post Fire Realities–Fire Insurance and Post Fire Terrain Care:
Surviving Wildfire: Get Prepared, Stay Alive, Rebuild Your Life by Linda Masterson will not only get you thinking about every aspect of preparing for wildfire, with excellent information on adequate insurance coverage and accurately documenting the value of your home and its contents. The vast majority of people are underinsured. Don’t let this happen to you. Liz Anne Jensen highly suggests taking detailed photographs of every room and every drawer in your home and storing these images in the cloud. It will make future insurance claims much easier to substantiate.
Angie Gruys offers this informational links about how to care for terrain in the wake of wildfire: