How to prepare for an evacuation
Editor’s Note: This article is the second in a four-part series that will run through Tuesday.The theme of this article is how to prepare to safely evacuate your home in the event of a fire.The majority of homeowners have probably never given a second thought to creating an evacuation plan for themselves or the subdivisions’ homeowners association creating one for the total subdivision.That complacency can result in chaos and confusion in an emergency, increasing the risk to life and property.Evacuation alertAn evacuation alert is an advisory of fire potential in your area.Evacuation alerts are issued to advise residents of the potential for loss of life or property from fire. When an alert is issued, you should be prepared for deteriorating conditions which may require you to leave your home within 10 minutes.If it is necessary to evacuate one’s home because a wildland fire is approaching, residents should take the following steps:- Gather essential items such as medications, eyeglasses, valuable papers, immediate care needs for dependents, and, if you choose, valuable keepsakes, photographs, etc. Make them immediately accessible for a quick departure. – Keep track of the location of all family members and determine a planned meeting place should an evacuation be called while separated.- Relocate large pets and livestock to a safe area immediately, if possible.- If possible, arrange accommodation for your family in the event of an evacuation. Emergency shelters will be provided if necessary. These emergency shelters will probably not permit pets, so it is suggested that alternate arrangements be made for pets at the same time.Things to do to your home before you evacuate:- Close all windows and doors. Do not lock them.- Close all inside doors.- Remove thin curtains from windows.- Close heavy curtains/drapes (They will protect against radiant heat.)- Move combustible furniture into the center of the room, away from windows and doors.- Leave a light on inside and out. – Shut off the gas at the outside propane tank.- If leaving a vehicle behind, back it into the garage, close windows, leave keys in the ignition, close garage door and leave it unlocked.- Disconnect the automatic garage door opener.- Remove combustible furniture from decks.- If you have a ladder, place it against the roof on the side away from the approaching fire.Evacuation orderAn evacuation order may be issued by authorities with local jurisdiction in response to imminent danger of forest fire risk to the involved area. These orders are issued in the interest of life safety. Members of the local fire departments and law enforcement will be involved in expediting the action through door to door contact and mobile public address systems. When an evacuation is ordered:- It is imperative you report to the evacuation center indicated. This will allow for effective communications for the evacuation team and will facilitate contact by friends or relatives who may be very concerned.- If you need transportation to evacuate, advise the individual providing the notice of evacuation.- Keep a flashlight and portable radio with you at all times.- Have you forgotten a necessity?- Follow your emergency escape plan and obey traffic control. Travel will be only one-way out of your area to allow emergency vehicles access. Re-admittance is not permitted.If you have questions, contact your local fire protection agency. If you would like Ron Biggers, fire protection analyst for the Glenwood Springs Fire Department, to meet with you or your homeowners group, call him at 928-6033.
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