Be ready for wildfire

As the nation mourns the 19 firefighters killed Sunday in Arizona, we’re reminded that nature can and will devastate lives and property in the blink of an eye. Northern Nevada, too, is at high risk of fires with the ongoing drought and high temperatures.

The U.S. Fire Administration has a good web page that discusses how to prepare for wildfires at There is much more on the site than we can mention in this short editorial space, but here are the high points. The key is to be aware of the danger and prepared for its eventuality.

• Create a 30 to 100 feet safety zone around your home.

This means clearing out all flammable vegetation and removing any dead leaves or branches. Make sure the power company has removed tree branches near power lines. Stack any firewood as far from your home as possible. Keep any fuel—like gasoline for your lawnmower—in approved safety containers and away from the base of buildings. Move propane-fueled grills away from the house.

• Prepare and protect your home.

Clean out the gutters and leaves and pine needles can collect in them. Install or check dual-sensor smoke alarms on each level of your home. Keep fire tools like a rake, ax, saw, bucket and shovel where you can quickly access them. Have a garden hose that’s long enough to reach any part of your home or any building on your property. Have key papers or irreplaceable items like photographs at hand.

• Plan for evacuations.

If wildfire is threatening, put all the pets in one room. Back your car into the driveway or garage. Have an emergency plan for the family. For example, establish a place to meet up should the call to evacuate come during the school or work day. Prepare a disaster kit with several days worth of foods that won’t spoil and several gallons of water, a change of clothing, medications, pet food, a radio with extra batteries, sanitation supplies, and extra eyeglasses or contact lenses.

• Prep the house when an evacuation appears imminent.

Close all the windows, door and outside vents. Turn off utilities and propane bottles on the grill. Open the fireplace damper and close the screen. Move any flammable furniture away from windows. Connect garden hoses to outside faucets, and wet down shrubs and the roof.

• If told to evacuate, do so immediately.

Wear protective clothing. Grab the pets and disaster kit. Lock your home, and choose the route least likely to put you in the path of danger.

There’s a lot more good information on the website, but now—before we’re directly threatened—is the time to prepare.