With wildfire season upon the Northwest, it is important for communities to know what to do in case of an emergency that wildfires can cause.

The Grant County Sheriff’s Office (GCSO) posted to Facebook five steps for being prepared for a wildfire emergency:

  1. Make sure you are subscribed to Nixle to receive emergency notifications (in addition to text messages, law enforcement officers will go door-to-door if it is safe to do so),
  2. Be familiar with terminology related to evacuation notices,
  3. Have an emergency plan and an emergency kit,
  4. Know all the routes out of your community in case of evacuation,
  5. Follow our Facebook page for continuing, official information.

“Being prepared now will greatly reduce your personal risk later,” the post said.

For step one, you can sign up for NIXLE emergency mass notifications by texting GCSHERIFF to 888777.

For step two, there are three levels related to evacuations. Level 1 is ready, meaning that there’s a nearby emergency. Level 2 is called set, which means danger is closer so get ready to leave. Level 3 means go now.

Steps three and four encourage families to be prepared in case of evacuations. They can do this by planning ahead and practicing two ways out of their neighborhood. It is important to know the evacuation route and plan a place to go, like a friend’s or family member’s home. Also keep in mind that pets are not allowed in Red Cross shelters, although it is common for fairgrounds to open as a place to house animals during an emergency.

Grant County Fire District #3 Chief Tony Leibelt suggested that for emergency kits families use a waterproof tub that they can easily grab to put their most important papers or documents, medications, money, important memorabilia items, pet food, cell phone and chargers among other things.

Leibelt also suggests that families have a plan for what to do depending on how much notice they have to evacuate such as a list of most important items to grab and choices on transporting or freeing large animals.

He also highlighted that people who do not live in the irrigation project are more likely to need to evacuate during wildfire season and to pay attention to fires in the surrounding areas to know if they might end up needing to evacuate and if they do, to know what direction to go.

Leibelt addressed that with the current drought situation that the wildland is dryer than usual this summer. He reminded the community that fire travels farther and quicker than one might expect and the best way to avoid being in harm’s way when it comes to wildfire and evacuations is to be prepared far ahead of time.

Another aspect of the wildfire season to be prepared for is power outages. Wildfires can take out utility poles and result in power outages in areas not directly in fire danger. Candles, flashlights, bottled water, non perishable foods and battery powered chargers or radios are a good idea to keep in your house for power outage situations.

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