How to Prepare for Wildfires
Up in Clark, you can smell the smoke at night when the wind shifts. As the Beaver Creek Wildfire approaches 10,000 acres in size, firefighters have only so far contained about 5%, and expect to continue fighting until August, likely impacting summer recreation in North Routt and potentially impacting our homes.
The idea of a mandatory evacuation might feel remote, but emergency responders have admitted the possibility that the fire could cross the divide. Having a plan for an emergency is highly beneficial, according to Jordan Mallory, a Helitack Firefighter and EMT with the National Park Service. Talking to your family and setting up a system in the case of evacuation would be worthwhile if the moment came. Plan how and where to meet, and where you would stay.
In particular, caring for animals can become tricky. Many people in North Routt are ranchers or own horses for recreational purposes. Mallory advises, “The most important thing someone could do to protect their animals is to create a defensible space for their property. Clearing big piles of brush, limbing trees, keeping vegetation manicured, and limiting debris around the home is the first step.” These are preventative measures you can take to limit the possibility of fire spreading to your property or creating problems if it did spread.
Keeping informed about the behavior of the fire and its direction is also important. Coordinate with family and friends to define a place to move cattle and other large animals in case of an emergency evacuation. Mallory said the the primary issue she sees with livestock owners is a lack of time to prepare when the evacuation becomes mandatory.
You can also call upon a division of volunteers from the Humane Society called CART – Community Animal Response Team – who are trained to specifically aid companion animals and livestock. Visit their website to learn more about the ways they help ranchers, farmers, and others shelter and care for animals in an emergency and reunite with rightful owners if they become displaced.
If you’re interested in becoming a CART volunteer, there are several steps outlined on their website. Even if you’re not in the line of fire this summer, you can help make a difference for those who are.
Don’t forget that in an emergency, first responders are always looking for wallets and phones as a way to identify people. Keep your ICE (In Case of Emergency) App up to date on your phone, and if you have medical directives, consider DocuBank to store your files for easy access.
With natural disasters and emergencies, we always think that prepare for the worst and hope for the best is the most useful philosophy. In the meantime, we wish you above all a safe summer!