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  • Writer's pictureCatherine Swan

How to Prepare for Wildfires

From town, you can smell the smoke when the wind shifts. As the East Troublesome fire has exploded quickly, the damage still difficult to assess. Though snow is in the forecast, fire season has been long and difficult in 2020.

The idea of a mandatory evacuation might feel remote, but we've learned in the past several months that it could be right around the corner.  "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 Routt County 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.

In addition to having an emergency evacuation plan, consider revisiting your important documents: your life insurance policy, your financial documents, and your estate plan. Is everything well-organized, and information up to date? Do you have the right people listed as beneficiaries? It's so important to review this information at least once a year.

With natural disasters and emergencies, we always think that prepare for the worst and hope for the best is the most useful philosophy.  Do you have a plan? Contact Swan Law for professional assistance: 970-879-1572

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