By Erin E. Cooper | Concordia/Vernon/Woodlawn Neighborhood Emergency Team
Although it’s still early in the summer season, 2021 is shaping up as a year with the potential for wildfires similar to those in 2020. Low precipitation levels have dried out the soil and vegetation, and high winds can spread fire quickly.
Fortunately, there are some basic steps you can take to minimize the risk of fires and things everyone can do to prepare for rapid evacuations.
Vegetation near the exterior of the house can spread a fire to your house. Remove it or consider replacing it with fire-resistant plants. Oregon State University Extension Service identifies those plants at Bit.ly/CNA-USDA.
Keep trees trimmed back at least 10 feet from the house, and don’t lean or pile flammable material such as firewood against the house. For more information, visit Portland.gov/fire/your-safety/reducing-risk-wildfire.
It’s important to gather supplies and pack a go-bag before the time comes to evacuate. Your bag should include three days of food and water for each member of the family, a change of clothes, personal hygiene items and any essential medications.
If you have babies or small children, don’t forget to pack diapers, formula and other items to keep them comfortable. Don’t forget water, food, litter and travel crates for pets.
Follow the evacuation notices and wildfire warnings from reputable sources, such as the county, city and Portland Fire & Rescue. There are three levels of warning:
- Get ready
- Be set
As with all disasters, do not wait for official notice if you are in immediate danger. To avoid traffic jams, take only one car per family and plan several potential evacuation routes.
Wildfires have much in common with other disasters. By planning ahead and communicating with families and neighbors, you can minimize the damage and help the community recover.
Erin E. Cooper is a marine biologist living in Woodlawn. She spends a lot of time thinking about disasters and has been a NET member for many years. Contact her at OceanListener@gmail. com