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Emergency Preparedness Month: Watching for Wildfires

Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 6:33 PM CDT
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - Usually, there’s little that can be done when disaster strikes, but sometimes being prepared ahead of time can minimize the harm. September is National Preparedness Month, and there are many things that can be done to prepare ahead of time -- especially with fire season up on.

With fall, we can expect a lot of changing foliage and cooler temperatures, but the dying out of leaves and shrubs means more potential for fires to occur.

“As we get into the fall, we have people out hunting, other people out recreating, so it’s always a time for maybe elevated awareness,” said Bill Crapser, the Wyoming State Forester.

Some of the things that the Wyoming Forestry Department recommends is being aware of fire restrictions, and if you have a fire, making sure they’re out. The dry grasses that we’re seeing now can also be something to look out for, and the department recommends not idling or driving for prolonged time over them.

“Even things like... safety chains on trailers dragging on the asphalt can start a fire so I think overall -- situational awareness -- you’re out there and it is dry conditions,” Crapser said.

Because sometimes wildfires can be inevitable, Forestry recommends having a plan of escape in case one breaks out near you whether you are living in these areas or camping out. Also, a good strategy is to have an idea of what you’ll take with you.

“A lot of times when the sheriff or the fire officials evacuate people, they don’t have an awful lot of time. They... should have a plan in place for your pets, for your property, what you’re going to do, how you’re going to go about it,” Crapser said.

One of those things you can bring with you is an emergency supply kit.

“We like folks to really personalize their kits themselves such as medications, have weather radios...” said Dennis Hughes, American Red Cross Senior Disaster Program Manager. “We recommend hand-crank radios so you don’t need batteries.. some supplies that you would need in case your power goes out... you know, just some water, some snacks.”

Other ways you can prepare is by having an out of state point of contact in cases where communication could be down within the state. Also, the Red Cross says to keep neighbors close to practice what they call “access of functional needs”.

“If you have someone in your home that has a specific disability that may need some extra help to evacuate or get moved,” Hughes said, “then you can coordinate with your neighbors to let them know, ‘hey, I have... one of my family members has a disability and I’m going to need some help in the event that we have to evacuate. So, make your neighbors a part of your plan as well.”

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