Local Fire Safety Tips For the Tri-Community

PHOTO: T.A. Graydon - NewsPlus

“Pop-up” fires can appear out of nowhere in the High Desert.

Brush clearance, practicing fire safety awareness, and some advance planning are tasks that can save precious minutes in a life-threatening wildfire evacuation in Wrightwood, Phelan, or Pinon Hills. You can do it yourself, with your family, and with the help of local agencies like CERT and the Wrightwood Fire Safe Council.

To minimize the risk of fire damage to your property, be sure your residence has a defensible space clear of debris, trash, or yard clippings. Fences, trees, firewood, and plant spacing are all items of concern when planning your fire-resistant yard. Flammable fencing should not provide a continuous fuel pattern that might encounter a structure. According to Cal Fire, defensible space is the buffer zone between your structure and the surrounding area. Adequate, defensible space acts as a barrier to slow a fire’s progress until firefighters arrive.

Maintaining clear access to your property for firefighters and victims fleeing is also essential. Imagine how you would navigate through dense smoke in your neighborhood. Take note of familiar obstacles, bridges, and powerlines in your area. Practice fire drills and evacuation procedures with your family and know your exits.

Emergency backpacks can be a fun family shopping project or can be purchased at most sporting goods and retail stores. Make sure to include a working flashlight, emergency blanket, water bottle, some cash, snacks, a change of clothes, a small first aid kit, whistle (to signal for help,) a dust mask and moist towelettes (for personal sanitation,) and a small list of names and contacts in case of separation. A basic disaster supplies list is available at Build A Kit | Ready.gov.

A printable list of wildfire evacuation suggestions is available from the Wrightwood Fire Safe Council. John Miller, a retired San Bernardino Fire Public Affairs Officer, said a few words about The Angeles National Forest and fire safety awareness. “For new residents, Wrightwood has a very vibrant and active fire council they can contact and ask questions regarding fire safety.” This organization sponsors many community events in conjunction with Cal Fire, Angeles National Forest, and The San Bernardino County Fire Department, such as Wildfire & Disaster Awareness Day and Green Waste Recycling programs in the Tri-Community. The Wrightwood Fire Safe Council can be reached at Wrightwood Fire Safe Council (wrightwoodfsc.com) (760) 249-3249.

A CERT team can help you learn how to take care of yourself and your loved ones in an emergency.

Be informed by joining local safety organizations like CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) where you can learn to protect the ones you love and yourself if or when a disaster occurs. The CERT in Wrightwood certwrightwood@gmail.com (909) 800-1933 and Phelan and Pinon Hills pphcrt@gmail.com  (760) 887-1847 offers several training programs you can become involved with. In September, the two organizations came together to offer the CERT Basic Training course which is a free, 21-hour course that teaches disaster preparedness, basic first aid, and skills you need to empower yourself to help others in the event of an emergency. They’re proud to announce that 15 members have completed the training back in September and during October, ten of their CERT members along with three other community members, completed the CPR/AED & First Aid certification, which was taught by Wrightwood CERT member Thomas Kite and his wife Sylvia. The next CERT Basic Training course will be held in the Spring in Phelan, so be sure to contact the organizations for more information and to be included in their email list.

Knowing your resources, maintaining an elevated level of wildfire awareness, preparing your residence or business to repel fire, and arming yourself with an escape plan can help in a fast-moving wildfire in the Tri-Community. Remember what Smokey Bear said, “Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires!”

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