ANOTHER VOICE: Help successful fire prevention planning

I think I can safely say that I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain.

The downpour that Oregon received last week was nothing short of torrential, bringing with it crisp fall mornings, brightly colored maple leaves, and signifying to most of us that the wildfire season has officially come to an end. It seems like fall may have come early for us, shorting us of those wonderful late summer days that we all have grown accustomed to.

Looking back on it, however, we have had a long summer: There were record temperatures in May and we managed to skip the whole month of Juneuary.

If our summer really was so long, where did our fire season go? Yes, the Government Flats fire made a ferocious appearance, but Hood River County managed to stay fairly unscathed all summer long.

My first thought is that Mother Nature is not a predictable lady. However, considering that the majority of fires in Hood River County are human-caused, maybe another reason exists: Hood River County Fire Services actively campaigned throughout the fire season for citizens to be vigilant and aware that we live in a fire-prone area. An active and aware citizenry is the most effective defense against wildfire: kudos Hood River!

While we avoided any major fires this year, we should all keep in mind that fire prevention is not only a summer task. With fall comes the time of year to clear brush around the home, remove those pesky beetle-infested pines, and plan for next year’s fire season. Yes, fire prevention is a year-round task.

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To prepare for the future, Hood River County Fire Services is in the process of updating the Hood River County Community Wildfire Prevention Plan — a planning document that helps citizens, individual fire districts, and the Oregon Department of Forestry to reduce hazardous fuels in fire prone areas.

As part of the process, Hood River County Fire Services would like public input on the update and is cordially inviting concerned citizens to come and give your input on Tuesday, Oct. 22, from 7 to 9 p.m., at the meeting of the Hood River Watershed Group.

We want to plan and prepare for future wildfire prevention in Hood River County.

The meeting will be sponsored by the Watershed Group and held at the OSU Extension Meeting Room.

Paper drafts of the document can be found at your local fire department, and electronic copies can be found at http://hrccwpp.wordpress.com.

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Jon Gehrig serves as wildfire prevention coordinator for Hood River County Fire Services.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge



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