Make a plan to ensure safety during wildfires
By Chris Michlewicz; graphic courtesy of South Metro Fire Rescue
The fires that spread in Boulder County in late December are a sobering reminder that wildfire season in Colorado never really ends, and residents must always be prepared for the worst.
The dry conditions in Colorado are about as bad as they’ve ever been. The lingering drought, in spite of a few shots of snow, means grass fires and wildfires can happen just about anywhere, including suburbia. Risk is especially high in places like Castle Pines, where the natural surroundings that make it such a beautiful place to live create easy fuel sources for the spread of wildfires.
In fact, of the Douglas County Summary of Overall Ranking of Natural Hazards by Jurisdiction, wildfires are ranked number one for Castle Pines and are the only hazard to be deemed a “high” risk. The risk rating scores are based on factors such as “probability” and “impact.”
The ranking underscores the importance of signing up for reverse emergency notifications and formulating an evacuation plan for your household, according to Einar Jensen, risk reduction specialist for South Metro Fire Rescue (SMFR).
SMFR was inundated with calls in the days and weeks after the Marshall Fire. It provided a helpful set of tips for homeowners:
- Formulate a plan with your children, including designating a trusted person to travel with, in case they’re home alone when a fire breaks out.
- Determine primary and secondary escape routes from the neighborhood.
- Make duplicate copies of important papers and keep them at a secondary location.
- Make a video walk-through of your home to document what’s inside for insurance purposes.
- Have a go-bag of essentials ready.
South Metro also conducts assessments for homeowners and businesses and recommends minimum (but optional) mitigation standards to reduce the risk of low- to moderate-intensity fires. However, “mitigation is ineffective against extreme wildfire behavior such as 100-mph winds,” Jensen said. Type “South Metro Ready Set Go” into your internet browser to learn more about the department’s recommendations.
The City of Castle Pines is working with SMFR to reduce response times in the community and adopted Douglas County’s updated 2021 Local Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan late last year. The plan makes Douglas County eligible for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Pre-Disaster Mitigation and Hazard Mitigation Grant programs, should those funds be sought as a result of a natural hazard incident in Douglas County.
To learn more, visit www.douglas.co.us and type “hazard mitigation” into the search bar.