P for preparedness, that is.
We’ve been closely following the news and social media feeds on the many many wildfires in Washington State. Some are making the headlines, and some are buried in various agency pages and updates. Chelan Complex, Wolverine, Oka Twisp, Goodell Creek, Marble Valley, Kettle Complex…the list goes on.
The people of Seven Trees Farm have deep connections with these places. Former homes and property, favorite recreation spots, childhood outdoor adventures, and even more distressing – family and friends in the path of danger and destruction.
We have experienced first hand how fast these wildfires spring up and spread out. I have personally witnessed lightning striking a nearby hillside, sparking an immediate inferno. Just like that. When dry trees & brush, lightning (or idiot campfires and tossed cigarette butts) and hot winds get together, wildfires rage out of control in a heartbeat.
One of the reasons we left that area was the constant danger of being cut off from home, not knowing if our critters and buildings were in the path of the fires, but having to work in town anyway. Memories of the last summer we spent in Colville are literally shrouded in smoke. The whole valley was filled with ash and haze and people asking each other “where’s the fire? where’s the fire?”.
That’s when we started taking preparedness seriously. You’d think growing up in the shadow of volcanoes perched on the Cascadia subduction zone would have been impetus enough, but it wasn’t until a wildfire peeked up over the summit of the nearest hill that we got our first bug out bag (BOB) together.
Washtington State DNR tweeted a very helpful graphic for sorting out the first elements of emergency evacuation preparedness. Take a look at what emergencies you might have to deal with and start getting your household ready. Wildfires, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods…the list of potential disasters is large, but your household can start small in preparing for them. There are lots of online resources full of ideas for making bug out bags (including planning for livestock and pet evacuations), local agencies with CPR and CERT classes, shelter locations, and regionally-specific information.
Seven Trees Farm also maintains a collection of Cascadia-oriented twitter feeds with live police, fire, breaking news, etc that you can check out when the headlines get close to home. You can also subscribe to these twitter lists directly, or create your own. There are also some links to area agencies like the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center, and InciWeb, which aggregates wildfire information from many areas. It’s a good idea to get familiar with emergency news feeds for your own area, since they may be the most accurate and immediate source of information when it counts.