Butler Fire II: Reminder About Disaster Preparedness

One of the things people have been talking about is what do you need to be ready for an emergency. As much as people think they are prepared–they usually are not. You can read a bunch of tips at the American Red Cross website. While you are here–take a few minutes to do it.

If the power goes out gasoline will not be accessible at the pump and people forget that. We worry around these parts when the valley is also filled with visitors. It puts a big strain on the local resources and can clog the roads.

So, most of us keep a full tank during fire season and snow season just in case of a problem. That was one of the main reasons I left for the other side of town during the first Butler Fire (plus I could see the smoke and flames on the ridge across from my house)–two of the main roads were closed and the valley was really full of visitors. I wanted to be by the only road out in the worst case scenario–some people gave me grief–but my brother (a CDF fire captain) likes that I am so sensible.

Although you can use the car radio, it is a good idea to have an emergency radiowith a crank to get the news. Luckily the power has not gone out yet–although rumors that power is out have been floating around–out here on the East end things are good. It would make life a bit more scary without a local source to get the news.

I have found that one of the best resources–again as long as the power remains on–is the online scanner. It is SO hard to get accurate news and the scanner is one of the best sources. We get frustrated that many media sources are looking for a unique angle and a sensational story instead of getting the facts out to those who may be out of the area.

During the Old Fire most of my stress was from the news…and I quit watching and listening to it then. KBHR, the local radio station, had good updates on their website and so did a couple of other sites listed on the resource page I mention below.

I’ve had a number of locals who are out of town call my home line today for news…told them to get it here. If the fire burns the telephone lines–guess what–no telephones. I have an old landline phone that works well when the power goes out. Cell phones maybe a good emergency aid and that is why I have one–it isn’t much use otherwise since it doesn’t work in many of these parts anyway.

So, if you live in the area you might consider getting a Hand Held Scanner to hear the news yourself…and use the links to the wildfire incident resources page to find other good internet sources in the meantime.

Some locals have their own power source for radio and lights and an extra generator cord to reach where they need it–and a few have solar. I think a lot of us have stashes of food and water for emergency but if you have to leave that isn’t much help. However, you should have a stash anyway–my water is in the car. Packed it the night before we were evacuated.

Pets are a whole other topic that seemed to have been overlooked again despite the recently instituted Pet Evacuation & Transportation Act (PETS). You can read some animal disaster preparedness tips from Fawnskin online. The booklet was just updated in August–and the preparedness article for fires in On the Mountain Magazine was scheduled to run in October.

My editor told me she hoped it wouldn’t be something that was needed and it is too bad that it will run after this fire–but I hope people will clip it out and follow the tips. The main thing is to take your animals with you…and include them in your plans. Usually once you are out you will not be let back into an evacuated area.

Okay, that is my little soapbox for the day. Still listening to the scanner and hoping to have some official updates tonight at the meeting which we will head out to in about an hour.

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