A home disaster preparedness kit should include a week’s worth of essentials.

Sonoma County’s tips on staying prepared for fire season

The County of Sonoma hosted a virtual preparedness meeting three weeks ago where local professionals gave tips on how to stay safe and prepared this fire season.

On Sept. 13, 4th District Supervisor James Gore welcomed community members to the county’s Wildfire Preparedness Seminar.

“We all know what it was like to be caught. In the days following that event, that catastrophe, the biggest disaster our community has ever seen, there was a common refrain that was not just ‘Sonoma Strong,’ but it was ‘how do we not let this happen again?’ Never again,” Gore said. “Never again means we’ll never again get caught on our heels.”

Gore introduced the speakers, who proceeded to give tips about best practices for fire preparedness. These were some of the key takeaways:

Creating a defensive space

Adding things such as gravel, rocks, concrete, a galvanized wall or green grass around the perimeter of a home can help protect it from flames.

Clearing dense, dry or dead foliage from around a home can also help protect a structure from increased level of fire risk.

Permit Sonoma’s Fire Prevention and Hazardous Materials Division provides free defensible space inspections vegetation management grant programs and a curbside chipper program that local community members can take full advantage of by clicking “grants” under the “prevent” tab at readyforwildfire.org.

Know your zone

The County of Sonoma highly encourages residents to get familiar with what their fire zone is, so that when evacuation orders are called, community members will know whether or not they need to leave.

Anyone in Sonoma County can find their home by using the zone lookup tool or the interactive evacuation zone map on the county’s website. Once the zone is located, make sure it’s written down somewhere readily accessible

Misti Wood, an officer at the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office, explained the difference between an evacuation order and a warning. In an evacuation order, residents of that zone should leave immediately. In an evacuation warning, residents should make sure they’re prepared and ready to leave in case an order follows.

Make a plan

Each household should have an evacuation plan in place. People and animals should be the first priority, and if anyone in a household will need help to evacuate, speak with neighbors in advance who are in a position to help.

Build a kit

A personal go bag should contain at least 72 hours worth of essential supplies, including water, food, medication, blankets, lights and important documents. A home kit should include a week’s worth of essentials in case there’s no way to leave the residence.

Sign up for alerts

Resources like: SoCoAlert, Nixle, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Weather Radio, and pulse point are all accessible and reliable alert systems that residents can use for low or no cost.

Other tips

Get an evacuation tag. These tags are available for free at any local sheriff office and most police stations. Residents can hang them on their front door once they’re evacuated to let firefighters know that there’s nobody inside the home. This saves the firefighters lots of time and energy.

Register your gate code. In order to ensure firefighters can get you and protect your home, you can register your gate code with the county Sheriff’s Office confidential system

Additional tips can be found on the county’s website on its Emergency Readiness, Response and Recovery page, or on Cal Fire’s website.

Contact the reporter Rebecca Wolff at rebecca.wolff@sonomanews.com.

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