As the beauty of Southern California lures us into a sense of tranquility, the wildfire season reminds us to remain vigilant. It’s not just homes at risk but also places of worship—our churches, which serve as crucial community hubs and sanctuaries in times of crisis.
In the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego, the threat of wildfires is an unfortunate but undeniable reality, particularly as we face increasingly unpredictable weather patterns. The area’s natural landscape, chaparral, scrublands, and canyons provide ample fuel for fires to ignite and spread. Adding to this are the seasonally hot, dry Fall conditions, exacerbated by the Santa Ana winds that can swiftly turn a small flame into an uncontainable blaze.
By acknowledging the threat of wildfires and taking proactive steps to mitigate risks, our churches can remain strong pillars of community during times of crisis. Let’s support each other in prayer and action, making our community more resilient to whatever challenges lie ahead.
Knowing that areas around San Diego are susceptible to wildfires can help us safeguard these sacred spaces while underscoring the importance of community support during turbulent times.
Jeff Green, EDSD Safety Officer, has gathered a number of resources to help prepare for wildfire season below:
WILDFIRE EMERGENCY RESPONSE PROCEDURES
IF YOU ARE UNDER A WILDFIRE WARNING, GET TO SAFETY IMMEDIATELY:
- Leave if told to do so.
- If trapped, call 9-1-1.
- Listen for emergency information and alerts.
- Use N95 masks to keep particles out of the air you breathe.
- Sign up for your community’s warning system.
- The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts.
- Know your community’s evacuation plans and find several ways to leave the area.
- Drive the evacuation routes and find shelter locations ahead of time.
- Have a plan for pets and livestock.
- Gather emergency supplies, including N95 respirator masks.
- Keep in mind each person’s specific medical needs, including medications.
- Don’t forget the needs of pets.
- Confine pets and livestock to a specific area so they can be found and evacuated quickly.
- Designate a room that can be closed off from outside air.
- Close all doors and windows.
- Set up a portable air cleaner to keep indoor pollution levels low when smoky conditions exist.
- Keep important documents in a fireproof, safe place. Create password-protected digital copies.
- Find an outdoor water source with a hose that can reach any area of your property.
- Create a fire-resistant zone that is free of leaves, debris, or flammable materials for at least 30 feet from your buildings.
- Review insurance coverage to make sure it is enough to replace your property.
- Pay attention to air quality alerts.
SURVIVE DURING THE FIRE:
- Evacuate immediately if authorities tell you to do so.
- If trapped, call 911 and give your location, but be aware that emergency response could be delayed or impossible. Turn on lights or place bright-colored pieces of clothing or signs in your window to help rescuers find you.
- If trapped, call 9-1-1 even if you can see responders outside your building (they may not know you’re inside).
- Listen to EAS, NOAA Weather Radio, or local alerting systems for current emergency information and instructions.
- Use N95 masks to keep harmful particles out of the air you breathe.
- If you are not ordered to evacuate, but smoky conditions exist, stay inside in a safe location or go to a community building where smoke levels are lower.
BE SAFE AFTER THE FIRE:
- Listen to authorities to find out when it is safe to return and whether water is safe to drink.
- Avoid hot ash, charred trees, smoldering debris, and live embers. The ground may contain heat pockets that can burn you or spark another fire.
- Consider the danger to pets and livestock.
- Send text messages or use social media to reach out to family and friends. Phone systems are often busy following a disaster.
- Document property damage with photographs.
- Conduct an inventory and contact your insurance company for assistance.
- Wildfires dramatically change landscape and ground conditions, which can lead to an increased risk of flooding due to heavy rains, flash flooding and mudflows. Flood risk remains significantly higher until vegetation is restored up to 5 years after a wildfire.
- Consider purchasing flood insurance to protect the life you’ve built and to assure financial protection from future flooding.
Category: #Communications, #Outreach
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