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How To Prepare For The Next Wildfire

A fire in Alpine threatens homes, July 6, 2018.
Cleveland National Forest
A fire in Alpine threatens homes, July 6, 2018.
How To Prepare For The Next Wildfire
How To Prepare For The Next Wildfire GUEST: Victor Roosen, regional disaster officer, Red Cross of San Diego and Imperial Counties

You know you should be prepared for wildfire with an evacuation kit and a plan but are you. San Diego is in the grip of a heat wave which heightens the risk of fire. We saw that happen earlier this month when several fires broke out including the fire in Alpine that destroyed 34 homes. The speed of that fire caught many homeowners off guard without time to assemble important items or figure out where to go today. We'll talk with the Red Cross about what you should do to prepare. Joining me is Victor Rosen Regional Disaster Officer for the Red Cross of San Diego and Imperial Counties. And Victor welcome to the program. Thank you. Preparing before a wildfire breaks out gives us plenty of time to put together a preparedness kit. How do we begin to do that. Well it's really thinking about if you need to leave your home what things do you need. Right so an overnight bag. Those kind of items important documents are very important and things really think ahead is your pets. How are you going to take care of your pets. Right. So that some food for them some water for them as well. And then as you had mentioned that wildfires spread rapidly and particularly if it's windy it just it's very difficult to control. So you don't know how much time you have to evacuate. So to be prepared as best you can park your car in backwards. Make sure you always have at least a half a tank of gas in your car because you just never know. We live in a wonderful beautiful place but it burns so we need to be prepared for that. But to really build a kit one that you would take with you are kind of a grab bag and then one also if you need to shelter in place for an earthquake or something like that but again want a gallon of water per person per day. Now include your Petzold gallon of water for them per day. And all your medicines and all that kind of thing. So to have it in one spot so you can grab it quickly and go because you may just have moments talking about that evacuation kit. Do you advise people to sort of just leave it in a certain place with all that stuff in it ready to go at any time. Absolutely. Have it in a backpack or a bag or even out a roller. A lady in water springs the other day and she puts. She goes to Goodwill and gets like a roller suitcase just a cheap roller suitcase and puts all her stuff in that and ready to go. So either buy them but you know in the garage by your car or by the front door in a closet or something like them. Now you say having an evacuation plan is important. How do you develop an evacuation plan. Well there's a couple of things to remember so you want to plan ahead in a in a wildfire emergency situation. Most people including myself don't necessarily think normally. Yeah you kind of panic a little bit. So to have a little bit of muscle memory so how are you going to get out of your neighborhood. How are you going to get out of your house even if there's a fire in your home. How do you what's a second exit to any room then so to decide with your family a place to gather outside your home like you by the oak tree across the street of neighbors and if you are evacuated from the neighborhood to have martialing point or a gathering place outside the neighborhood. So again if communications are down or whatever your family can find each other. Now at the Red Cross you're always talking about preparedness. Everyone in San Diego. I would imagine has heard that that message probably lots of times. What do you think people tend to ignore the importance of being prepared. Well we live in a wonderful place where in first world country we have all that you know wonderful resources around us. I think what I get from folks a lot is while the first responders will come in and save me. Well they're certainly going to try. But again if it's a large event they may not know that you're there. They may not be able to get to you. Their resources will be thin. You're not the only person that would be in peril potentially. So it's really up to us as individuals to be prepared for ourself and we can't rely on our first responders particularly large events because their resources will be stretched and it just won't have the ability to save everyone if nobody is prepared. If you do find yourself having to leave your home because of a wildfire and you do not have a kit prepared what should they gather together in a hurry. Family members and pets are probably most important obviously. If you can get to grab some water. Be great. Cash is always king so always have at least some cash on you because ATMs are down or whatever and you can't have access to the electronic funds. That's important to have some cash you know hid hidden somewhere in the car or in your purse or somewhere and then have again a plan of where you're going to meet and make sure that everyone understands it and your family and that you're prepared to hook up again. Now when the region is under an excessive heat warning like it is right now how does the Red Cross prepare for a potential disaster. Well we staff up 100 percent of our response team and we are ready and on call. We're 90 percent 90 more. But 92 percent of our workforce are volunteers. And so where are all staffed up. People have committed to two week increments to be responders should that be needed. And so we we we check the water because when you're running properly they're fueled. We are sheltering agreements and our systems and make sure that we're we're all ready to go if something should happen. Yes. All right. I've been speaking with Victor Rosa and Regional Disaster Officer for the Red Cross of San Diego and Imperial Counties. Victor thank you. You bet. Thank you.

San Diego is in the middle of an excessive heat warning and while this heat wave isn't expected to be as hot as the last, the dry conditions have fire officials are on alert.

The West Fire in Alpine consumed 504 acres and 56 structures, including 32 homes earlier this month while the region was experiencing a heat wave. Some residents had little time to gather their belongings before evacuating.

Victor Roosen, regional disaster officer at the Red Cross of San Diego and Imperial Counties, said before the next disaster strikes, get a kit, make a plan and stay informed.


Roosen, discusses wildfire preparedness Tuesday on Midday Edition.

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