How to Prepare for California’s Wildfire Season
By many accounts, this year’s fire season will be brutal.
California is in the midst of a severe drought, and we’re anticipating another hot summer. Those very same conditions made the last two fire seasons particularly destructive, together killing a total of 36 people and destroying more than 14,700 buildings in the state.
Already, there have been more than 3,000 fires in 2022. On Monday, a blaze erupted in Sierra Nevada Gold Country and exploded to more than 3,500 acres. The fire, which was 5 percent contained as of Tuesday evening, has forced hundreds to evacuate their homes.
While we can’t entirely prevent fires, we can take steps to minimize their damage. Today I’m providing some tips for how to best prepare for wildfire season in California:
Ready your home
There are several measures you can take to help protect your property from wildfires, including clearing gutters, trimming brush and adding fire-resistant plants to your garden.
One of the more effective measures is creating a defensible space, a buffer of at least 100 feet (preferably more) between your home and flammable vegetation. The space helps prevent your home from catching fire — either from embers or flames — and provides firefighters a safe area to work in so they can defend your property. Read more from CalFire about how to build defensible space.
Another important safety precaution is limiting where embers can enter your home. Flying embers from a wildfire can destroy houses up to a mile away and are responsible for most property destruction during a wildfire, according to CalFire. Ways to keep your home safe from embers include installing metallic mesh on your vents and removing plant debris from your roof and rain gutters.
Learn more about how to prepare your home for wildfires in this article by my colleagues Marie Tae McDermott and Giulia Heyward.
Make a plan
Before a fire or other disaster, make a plan for what you and your household will do in case of an emergency evacuation.
Familiarize yourself with escape routes from your community, and decide where you’ll go if you must quickly leave your home. And make a list of which belongings you want to take with you.
Create a ‘go bag’
When a fast-moving fire is approaching, there usually isn’t time to assemble a bag with everything you might need to be away from home for a few nights. That’s why you should pack in advance.
In a backpack or other easy-to-grab kit, you’ll want to include a change of clothes, a first aid kit, a flashlight and an extra set of car keys. It’s also recommended that you keep handy a three-day supply of food and water for you and your pets.
CalFire has a checklist you can follow, and The New York Times has additional guidance on what to put in your emergency bag to be ready for any kind of disaster.
Where we’re traveling
Today’s tip comes from Charlotte Drury, who recommends the California coast along Humboldt and Mendocino Counties:
“I recently revisited the Lost Coast for some beach camping and exploring. I’ve traveled all over the U.S., Canada, and Europe and there is nowhere that I’ve seen a clearer view of the Milky Way. I traveled to Iceland to see stars like this over a black sand beach and it turns out that the best spot for both those things was right here in my home state!”
Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to CAtoday@nytimes.com. We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.
And before you go, some good news
Eric Kugler likes to say he met Dean Hansell through Ed Sullivan and Ingrid Bergman.
What actually brought them together in February 2011, though, was GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.
Read their full love story in The Times.
Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow. — Soumya
P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Cylinder-shaped pasta (5 letters).
Isabella Grullón Paz and Briana Scalia contributed to California Today. You can reach the team at CAtoday@nytimes.com.
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