Disaster Readiness

By Grant Pound

California recently experienced its worst fire in history. The fire moved so fast that people couldn’t get out of their houses. Some died in cars trying to flee. My heart goes out to those who lost lives, homes, loved ones and pets.

Fires and floods are increasingly likely in here in the intermountain west, and blizzards, drought and extreme storms are also very possible. The recent California fires reminded me just how not ready I am for emergencies at my ranch.

At the 2019 Rocky Mountain Yakspo we had a seminar on what to have ready for emergencies. Tom Laca is an extension agent and firefighter from Beulah, Colorado. He has fought many fires and has seen first-hand how ill-prepared people are for emergencies. The firefighters do everything they can to be ready for fire and to help save humans, property and animals, in that order. Tom finds it frustrating that property owners won’t meet firefighters part way by being ready.

What does that mean? There were several big takeaways for me.

I thought if there was a fire, I’d just cut my fences and run. Bad idea. The firefighters know (mostly) where the fire is heading and what areas are likely to be safe. By cutting the fences I might be sending my animals into a worse situation.

Almost every county has a safe place where animals can be taken to wait out a fire. In my area it is 50 minutes away. I may not be able to take all my animals, certainly not in one trip. When you get to a safe animal area they will ask for proof of ownership. Do you have that some place safe and ready to go, or will the papers go up with the house?

Neighbors. Do you know who has trailers, and how many animals in your area? Do you have all their phone numbers? Could you send a broadcast cell call to all of them at once (yes, you can).

There is a lot to think about in an emergency and the time to think about it is before something happens.

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