Are you Fire Ready??
By Lynda S. Nelson/ February 7, 2014 at 9:30 AM
As I sit at my desk writing this article, the corners of my mouth turn up into a smile as I look outside to see a light snow falling after an almost two month absence of any moisture. The smile is short lived, though, as I consider the gravity of our situation in Northern Nevada and most of the Western United States facing extreme drought conditions. The reality of making up the vast deficit of precipitation we need to get to an average winter will more than likely not happen, so we need to prepare ourselves and our community for what could be a devastating wildfire season.
Some things you can do as individuals to become more “fire ready”:
- Maintain a healthy landscape. Even with possible water restrictions ensuing, consider changing out your irrigation to a drip system to conserve water. Keep evergreens watered through the winter as they transpire year long through their needles and lose moisture. They will need additional water for survival and to not become wildfire fuel on your property. If your property does not have any defensible space, begin planning how you can best retrofit your existing landscape into a more fire adapted landscape. http://www.unce.unr.edu/publications/files/nr/2007/eb0701.pdf
- Learn what resources are available to you in our community: The University of Nevada Cooperative Extension has the Living With Fire program http://www.livingwithfire.info that can help you assess your property for 1) defensible space 2) Built Environment 3) Evacuation 4) Access and 5) Community Protection.
- Know when there is a “Red Flag” warning posted for our community and limit outdoor activity that can pose a threat for sparking a wildfire (using grinders, chainsaws, Off Highway vehicles, target practice). A Red Flag warning is a designation used by the National Weather Service to indicate that low humidity, high winds, and possibly erratic winds are predicted, creating low fuel moisture and a high probability of wildfire ignition.
- Understand what wildfire risk assessment area you live in. Washoe County has developed the Wildfire Risk Assessment strictly for planning purposes to better understand and predict fire behavior in our community. http://wcgisweb.washoecounty.us/FireHazard/
- Participate in the Nevada Wildland Urban Interface Summit and Nevada Wildfire Awareness Week activities to learn more about specific programs in our community.