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Be prepared for wildfires

As part of an ongoing effort to educate residents in emergency preparedness, the City of Mission Viejo is offering detailed information through the Emergency Survival Program (ESP).  This guide features monthly topics, historical information and what you can do now to prepare. November’s focus is on wildfires.

Unfortunately, this topic is timely: Recent fires in Napa, Sonoma and other Northern California counties together have been the deadliest and most destructive in state history. Closer to home, vegetative fires have burned homes and continue to cause extensive damage.

However, there are steps you can take now to protect your family and property.

First and foremost, create a defensible space around your home. This is the area around your home that is free of flammable plants and objects. This space is wide enough to prevent the flames and heat from a wildfire to reach your home.

Prepare a Wildfire Action Plan with all members of your household well in advance of a fire. Once you finish your plan, rehearse it regularly with your family and keep it in a safe, accessible place. Here is a partial checklist to get you started:

• Create and rehearse a Family Disaster Plan that includes meeting locations and communication plans.

• Keep fire extinguishers on hand and train your family on how to use them.

• Make sure your family knows where the gas, electric and water main shut-off controls are and how to use them.

• Plan several different escape routes.

• Assemble an emergency supply kit and keep an extra one in your car.

• Maintain emergency contact numbers.

• Appoint an out-of-state friend or relative as a point of contact.

• Keep a portable radio or scanner available.

Go early and don’t hesitate: Don’t wait until the fire comes to your neighborhood. By leaving early, you will give your family the best chance of survival. You will also help county firefighters by keeping the roads clear of congestion, which will help them move more freely and do their job to save your home!

Find out more tips for preparing your family for wildfire, see this guide or visit the City's emergency preparedness page.

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