PORTLAND - It's that time again. Summer. Picnics and parades, barbecues and baseball, long hikes on rugged trails or a cool dip in a mountain lake. Lots of ways and long days to have lots of fun.
But take care. Lots of it.
As temperatures rise and the land dries-out, it's also time again for wildfires. That has Vicki Christiansen worried. She began her career in 1980 as a wildland firefighter for the state's Department of Natural Resources. Today she heads the U.S. Forest Service. From the ground up and the top down she's aware of the damage wildfires can do. And this year, she recently told National Public Radio, that "a billion acres of land across America are at risk of catastrophic wildfires."
Hundreds of thousands of those at-risk acres likely will be in Oregon which saw more than 2,000 wildfires consume over 897,000 acres in 2018. This year could be worse. Although the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise says the wildfire season is off to a "slower start" this year than year past, its June Fire Potential Outlook forecast higher-than-average fire activity in large sections of the state in June, July, August and September. In 2017, the Insurance Information Institute estimated that more than 148,800 homes in Oregon were at "extreme risk" due to wildfires.
That's plenty to be worried about, but, even more so, it's plenty of reason to make sure you're prepared if, thanks to Mother Nature or, as much frequently is the case, human negligence or error puts you and yours at risk.
Below you'll find a set of links to organizations that can help you prepare for the season ahead and to monitor fire activity in real time. Just as the best time to fix a roof is when the sun is shining, the best time to prepare for wildfires is before the air gets smoky and the flames are just a ridge or two away:
- What you need to prepare for wildfires - Oregon Department of Forestry
- How to Make Your Home FIREWISE - Video with steps to reduce risks posed by wildfires
- Ready.gov - What to Do Before, During & After a Wildfire
- How to Prepare for a Wildfire - Federal Emergency Management Agency
- A primer on Wildland Fire Insurance - Insurance Information Institute
- Air quality tracking by Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
- Wildfire recovery assistance available from American Red Cross
- Wildfire Damage Housing Relief from Oregon Housing & Community Services
- Recovery assistance available from FEMA if President declares a major disaster from Oregon Office of Emergency Management.
- Recovery assistance available from HUD if President declares a major disaster.
And remember. An ounce of preparation is worth well more than a waterlogged pile of charred rubble left behind by a wildland fire. Be smart. Be safe. BE PREPARED.
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