Preparation is important, safety experts say, when it comes to taking the edge off anxieties and also lessening the blow if tragedy happens.
If peace of mind isn't motivation enough, consider that September is National Preparedness Month and National Fire Protection Week follows
"Now is the time to prepare, before forecasted winter storms trigger debris and mudflows especially in the recent burn areas," said Los Angeles County OEM director
And with more than 4,200 fires reported across the state so far this year -- considerably higher than the average of about 3,000 -- there's plenty of potential for added disaster this winter. The recent Blue Cut fire alone burned more than 37,000 acres and 320 homes and other structures, and was the 20th most destructive fire in
In partnership with the
"The most important thing is to be prepared for any type of hazard or threat," he said, adding that a great place to start is by identifying the potential threats where you live, work or go to school.
A fire involving even a single house can be devastating. The
"We need to remind everyone that disaster preparedness should be something to work on now, not tomorrow," said
Prepare for the inevitable
Inside the house
--Put together an emergency kit. Stock water, flashlights, a portable radio and a fire extinguisher. Get extra batteries. Buy or create a first aid kit. Store water and non-perishable foods.
--Purchase a high-capacity battery pack that can keep smartphones and other devices charged in the event of a power outage.
--Store things that matter most. Everything might seem important in the face of loss, but family documents are essential in the recovery process. Gather birth certificates, insurance papers and mortgage documents. Keep some cash on hand. Then store everything in one convenient place where you can grab it in an instant.
--Check/maintain all home smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Change batteries as needed. The
--Locate where the utility connections are and learn how to shut off the gas, electricity and water if necessary.
--Clean and maintain clothes dryers (a potential source of house fires). Always use a lint filter and routinely clean it before or after a load of laundry. Make sure to clean lint around the drum.
Outside the house
--Clear pine needles and leaves from roofs, gutters, decks, patios or porches.
--Store any outdoor items such as furniture, cushions, potted plants, umbrellas, etc., that can become projectiles or catch fire.
--Trim all trees near the house, particularly getting rid of overhanging branches, and cut back shrubs and bushes.
--Walk around the house and remove anything that might burn that's within 30 feet of the structure.
--When landscaping, create a buffer around your home. Use hard surfaces such as patios, etc., in appropriate places. Use plants that aren't likely to burn easily. It's called firescaping. "While no plant is fireproof, simple firescaping can be the solution, whether it's choosing plants with fire retardant abilities, knowing proper defensible landscape maintenance or keeping irrigation systems in excellent shape,"
--Develop or update a family evacuation plan.
--Choose an out-of-the-area friend or relative to be a contact person.
--Ensure your vehicle is in working order and always has gas.
--At work, learn your company's emergency plan and practice it.
--Parents of school-age children should keep contact information up to date and also learn the school's disaster plan.
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