Do not sleep through an evacuation

It is never good to sleep through an evacuation. Especially when the house burning is just down the block. Yet that is exactly what happened. Our house has thick walls and we were inside with the windows closed and since my husband is a serial television watcher, I had my ear plugs in. I woke up when my husband started complaining that the power went off. Then the dogs started barking and by the time we got outside our neighbor's house was gone, the house next door which was empty, was badly damaged, and several cars were turned into husks as well.

It was a scary experience watching the night sky light up fire engine red as flames danced through the tree tops. The sound of popping was heard, a tire on a car, the sap in a pine, a hot water heater. OK maybe more of a large BOOM than a pop. Our street became stuffed with emergency vehicles (thank you) and gawkers. We were so happy to hear that no one was hurt, but it was close.

Sierra Nevada foothills 

We live in the Sierra Nevada foothills of California and it gets hot here. Average temperature during the summer is about 96 no matter what the weather channel says. Air conditioning is a must, swimming is an absolute, and enjoying the beautiful warm nights is a blessing. However, we live with one threat. Fire. Brush fire, forest fire, and negligent fire are commonplace. We keep the land cleared around our house but between the Sierra Club and environmental services we can't cut down a tree to save our life. We try to keep the vegetation damp on days over 100 degrees, but sometimes it is so dry it is impossible. 

Even though we've lived here going on sixteen years, we've never really had an evacuation plan. I quickly changed my mind after seeing how fast the fire took down my neighbors house and how thoroughly it scoured out the cars and the adjoining house next door. The following day, we looked at our home with new respect. There are actions you can take to keep your area safe, but you cannot do away with the threat. As long as there are dry summers and thunderstorms we will have fire. 

What to do before a fire

1. Put ammunition and combustible material in special containers.  

2. Attach hoses to external faucets.  

3. Make sure you have an exit bag packed. A change of clothes, personal papers, important pictures. Or have one packed and stored at a relative's house.

4. Practice getting out of the house until you and your family know it by heart. 

5. Have a battery operated radio and flashlight ready at all times.  

What to do when a wild fire starts

1. Get out and let the professionals handle it. Use your emergency evacuation plan. 

2. If there are no professionals around and you are safe, use your hoses to keep the area around your home damp. Leave BEFORE the fire gets to your neighborhood. Fires are fast and you are not as fast as you think you are. 

3. Prop a ladder against your house for access

4. If you have electricity, turn on the lights for visibility. Especially during a wild fire as it will help the professionals see your home through the smoke. 

5. Watch out for #wildlife. Deer and mountain lions smell the smoke as well. Make room for them. 

You cannot escape the trauma of fire if one happens your way, but you can mitigate it. Practicing being safe. The house that burned was occupied by a young man and his daughter. They became separated and thought the worst. Thankfully, all was well.  #News #Health