I just attended a very important informational meeting about wildfire preparedness put on by the San Rafael Fire Department: Evacuation: In Case of Wildfire What You Need to Know!
The very recent devastating and nearby "Valley" fire made us all realize that it CAN happen in our neighborhoods, just like it did in theirs. During the presentation, the fire department put up a burn map showing the area that just burned in Lake County. They then took that same map and put it over a map of Marin County. It was beyond shocking to see if that fire had occurred here, much of the populated areas of Marin would be gone now. More on this below.
Being prepared is he name of the game. One of the most important ways to protect your property is to create defensible space around your house....clear grasses, leaves, tree branches, if you have Eucalyptus trees think seriously about getting rid of them (they explode in fires), etc. Clean debri from your gutters and roof.
Being prepared also means have a plan in place for evacuation. To start, take an index card and on it list all the things you would grab if you had only 10 minutes to evacuate. Put that card in a place that is easy to grab...then get yourself in gear and take the steps to prepare yourself and your family.
Make copies of important paperwork (home insurance, life insurance, mortgage statement, birth cetificates, passports....) and put them together. I keep mine in a bright plastic 9 x 11' envelope that is easy to grab out of my file cabinet.
If you don't want to make copies, then scan/diigitize all those important documents and important photos that you don't want to lose. Put it on a flashdrive.
If you don't already have an emergency bag for each of your cars, now is the time to prepare one and get it in there.....flashlights, radio, cash, food/water kits, pet food, medicines, goggles, heavy gloves, space blankets, shoes and socks, a compass, whistle and so much more should always be in that bag (see http://readymarin.org/ for complete lists of what you need).
A really helpful list of action items, from the meeting I attended, that can take you to links for checklists, resources and a CalFire Video can be viewed at http://www.dominicanareanews.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Evacuation_Preparation_For-PDF.pdf. I highly encourage you to take some time and go thru all 13 headings. As I mentioned in the first paragraph, one of the slides that really hit home is the one that shows the acreage that burned in the Lake County "Valley" fire and then the next slide shows that same burn map over Marin County. As you can see, most of where we all live would have been destroyed. Scary stuff, but necessary stuff to see.
Another important thing to do is to register your phones with the Marin Emergency Alert System. They system has been upgraded and expanded, and now includes cell phone numbers, so please go to http://www.alertmarin.org/ and make sure you are in the system.
During the meeting they showed footage of the Oakland Hills Fire....when that fire raged folks weren't prepared and seeing the chaos and gridlock of cars filled with families trying to get out of their neighborhoods, cars catching on fire from flying embers and debri was horrifying. Fire department folks were yelling at people stuck in cars to get out and run. Seeing the after footage of the burned out cars along neighborhood streets, right across the bay from us, in Oakland, will be with me forever.
The information given by the San Rafael Fire Department was so important that it made me want to share it with everyone I know because as one of the slides shown said, "Park Your Denial At The Door," and get prepared (it is not a matter of IF we will have a wildfire in Marin, but WHEN we will have one).