By Sen. Bill Monning
Every year, California’s fire season is getting longer and more dangerous. Our state’s geography, weather patterns and number of Wildland Urban Interface communities—areas where homes and wildland intermix—make California extremely vulnerable to devastating wildfires. Fifteen of the 20 most destructive wildfires in the state’s history have occurred since 2000, and 10 of them have occurred since 2015.
The recently enacted 2019-20 state budget increased funding for wildfire preparedness and prevention, and includes $225.8 million for forest health and wildfire prevention, as well as $210 million for CalFire to complete fuel reduction projects across the state. In addition, the budget allocates $50 million to improve the state’s 911 system, upgrading it from analog to digital and significantly improving our state’s emergency response capabilities.
As much as this funding will help, you should do what you can to prepare your own home against wildfire. CalFire has created a three step program called “Ready, Set, Go!” that breaks down what you need to do in order to be ready for wildfire.
Step 1: Get Ready. Being prepared for wildfire starts with maintaining defensible space and hardening your home by using fire resistant building materials.
Step 2: Get Set. Before a wildfire strikes, it is important that you prepare for the possibility of having to evacuate by creating a Wildfire Action Plan, assembling an Emergency Supply Kit for each person in your household, and filling out a Family Communication Plan that includes important evacuation and contact information.
Step 3: Go! Give your household the best chance of surviving a wildfire by being ready to go and evacuate early. Being ready to go means increasing your home’s defenses, if possible, and knowing when to evacuate and what to do if you become trapped.
You can find additional information about wildfire preparedness on the CalFire website: readyforwildfire.org. The website provides more details about the “Ready, Set, Go!” program as well as templates for the Wildfire Action Plan and the Family Communications Plan.
The better prepared you are, the more likely you will survive and recover after a wildfire. I encourage everyone to take the steps necessary to prepare yourself and your family.
Sen. Bill Monning represents the 17th State Senate District, which includes all of San Luis Obispo and Santa Cruz counties, and portions of Monterey and Santa Clara counties.