Fire Service: We appreciate the firefighters as we anticipate a rough fire year

News item one — “Red flag fire warning” for Hood River County:

The National Weather Service issued a red flag fire warning (3 to Go, A1) for the western half of Hood River County on Friday that was scheduled to remain in effect until 10 p.m. The red flag warning was issued due to “unusually dry conditions coupled with gusty winds”

News item two — Eleven wildfires have been reported this week in western Oregon and Washington.

This is January. Most of the current fires are, fortunately, small, but 11 fires at a time sounds like a mid-summer phenomenon, not pre-Valentine’s Day. No one is saying the fire season is starting just weeks into 2014 but this is perhaps a record short amount of time to go from the ball dropping to red flag raising.

Meanwhile the snowpack is a fraction of where it should be; the mid-Columbia has experienced an unusually dry mid-winter, and forecasts are not exactly calling for blizzards and downpours anytime soon. While the forests and wildlands aren’t August tinder dry, there has never been a January where more fire caution is in order.

There is a kind of irony in that Jan. 27 is Fire Service Appreciation Day, designated in 2007 by the Oregon Legislature.

State Fire Marshal Mark Wallace noted, “Communities have many opportunities to get involved and recognize the work and sacrifice of members of the Oregon fire service. This day is an opportunity for everyone to say thanks.”

Thank you, firefighters, paid and volunteer, permanent, for the training, time and commitment that comes with the territory. It’s all our territory, really, and if the existing conditions on the ground continue, communities will have altogether too many opportunities to say again how much we appreciate the work of our firefighters.

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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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