‘Now is the time’ for Nevada County residents to prepare for wildfire
Jeff Pettitt warned residents should not delay preparing for wildfires.
“Now is the time we should be getting ready,” said Pettitt, captain at Nevada County’s Sheriff’s Office.
Preparation includes having a predetermined meeting place outside of wildfire area, said Pettitt. Residents should also have an emergency supply kit or “go bag” and know alternative exit routes from their home.
Ana Acton, executive director of FREED, agreed.
“You never know where a fire is coming that will impact an evacuation route,” she said. “You have to think large and then narrow when the incident is actually happening.”
Pettitt urged residents to sign up for CodeRed, the county emergency hotline, to be notified if a wildfire is threatening their neighborhood.
The captain also advocated several things not to do during high risk times like leaving burning piles unattended, using weed trimmers or mowers, or using power tools.
If in the final hour a wildfire is approaching, and law enforcement knocks on the door, Pettitt advised leaving immediately.
“A lot of people in Paradise lost their lives because they went back inside to grab one more thing,” he said.
DISABLED, CHILDREN AT GREATER RISK
People who have access and functional needs issues are at the highest risk during environmental disasters, said Acton. This includes the elderly, disabled, children and people living in institutionalized communities.
“We see this time and time again. From major hurricanes to major wildfires,” she said, noting that 80 percent of people who died in last year’s Camp Fire were age 65 and older.
It’s important for people to ask themselves who the friends, family and neighbors are that can help, she said.
Helping others in the aftermath of the Paradise wildfire, Acton said she constantly heard people say, “if it weren’t for my son” or “if it weren’t for my neighbor,” they would not have survived.
“There’s not enough personnel and law enforcement and fire (responders) to come and help you out,” said Acton, adding that with the intensity of fires growing each year, strong social networks are crucial.
Acton also suggested having a plan if the power is cut for an undetermined period of time in order to prevent the beginning, or spreading, of a wildfire.
“How are you going to continue to power that really important equipment that you need?” asked Acton, referencing the importance of an oxygen tank for those who depend on it.
The executive director suggested going elsewhere, like the library, if air conditioning is inaccessible.
Pettitt stressed the importance evacuating during a wildfire unless CodeRed says otherwise, or there is no other option.
The next fire safety event will occur at 6 p.m. on April 24 at Alder Creek Middle School in Truckee.
Contact Sam Corey at 530-477-4219 or at email@example.com.
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Authorities in a Wednesday night press conference said 4,200 people in Nevada County have received evacuation warnings or orders, and 2,400 in Placer County are under a mandatory evacuation order.