Fire Watch: Hot times ahead

Round one is over.

As the 2014 wildfire season begins, the Gorge can breathe a sigh of relief at the quick extinguishment of Dog Falls Fire, across the river west of White Salmon.

We can thank the quick actions of firefighters, along with cooler temperatures and well-timed rains – the first recorded precipitation in a month in the Hood River area.

However, anyone using campgrounds, forest trails or otherwise getting out in our natural areas must remain vigilant.

Here are a few suggestions to help ensure that your campfires will be safe during the holiday weekend and throughout the summer.

If we all do all these things, we can continue to breathe not just sighs of relief, but clear mountain air.

n Call before you go — Call your local forestry or fire district to learn if there are any current campfire restrictions.

n Select the right spot — Maintained campgrounds with established fire pits provide the safest venue for campfires – and possibly the only legal place.

n Keep your campfire small — A campfire is less likely to escape control if it is kept small. A large fire may cast hot embers long distances.

n Attend your campfire at all times — A campfire left unattended for only a few minutes can grow into a costly, damaging wildfire. Staying with your campfire from start to finish until dead out is required by state law.

n Never use gasoline or other accelerants (flammable or combustible liquids) to start or increase your campfire. n Always have water and fire tools on site — Have a shovel and a bucket of water nearby to extinguish any escaped embers. When you are ready to leave, drown ALL embers.

n Make sure it’s out — Completely extinguish your campfire before leaving. If it is too hot to touch, it is too hot to leave. n Burn ONLY wood — State regulations prohibit the open burning of any material that creates dense, toxic smoke or noxious odors.

A first-time citation carries a $110 fine. If your campfire spreads out of control, you are responsible for the cost of fire suppression. This can range from a few hundred to thousands of dollars.

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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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