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It’s an Emergency - So Plan!

By Kathy Anderson
Silver City Neighborhood Alliance

    We’ve been very lucky to have recent rain and snow.  But, typical snows, like our last, are analyzed by climatologists with a 10:1 snow to water ratio.  Not much water has worked its way into our soils and accumulated data shows we continue to fall behind in precipitation.  The ranchers who’ve lived around here for lifetimes tell me it just keeps getting drier.

    Gary Benavidez, recently retired Grant County Fire Management Officer, whose admirable 44-year career certainly gives him the experience, tells me the depth and quantity of 1,000 year fuels has risen.  Jeff Fell, Deputy Chief, Training, of the Silver City Fire Department, tells me that drought in our arroyos has deepened, thereby creating more fire hazard.  Mr. Benavidez also tells me Fire Season 2013 will likely start this month.

    What to do?  Plan.  Ellen Brown, the US Forest Service’s Fire Prevention and Mitigation Coordinator, says: “The most critical step [in being prepared] is a plan to evacuate.”  So, think about your daily routine.  Where are you throughout your day?  Ms. Brown suggests you ask yourself “If you are at work, your child is at school, and there's a fire, where will you meet?"  

    Put together Ready, Set, Go bags of much-needed items for yourself and family members.  See http://www.wildlandfirersg.org/ for more information on this important resource created by the International Association of Fire Chiefs.  

    Make your home Fire Wise by removing trash, debris, and cutting back trees.  See www.firewise.org/courses-and-training/online-courses.aspx for detailed information about how to keep your home safe.  And work to make your community a Fire-Wise, Fire-Adapted Community.  See www.firewise.org/communities/usa-recognition-program.aspx for more information on the program.

    Learn more through local resources.  Grant County’s Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC), chaired by Silver City Police Department Captain Ricky Villalobos, meets every first Wednesday from 3:30 pm to 5:00 pm at the Grant County Administration Center Commissioners' Room to promote emergency preparedness.   The next meeting, February 6, 3:30 pm, at the Grant County Administrative Center, will be led by Ellen Brown, USFS, and a table-top exercise will help first responders work together to solve a hypothetical emergency.  

    And, come learn more about our weather in a presentation by New Mexico State Climatologist David Dubois on Tuesday, February 19 from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm at the Besse-Forward Global Resource Center at WNMU.  He’ll be speaking on “Climate Variability in the SW New Mexico Mountain Range:  Heat, Drought, Precipitation and Extreme Weather.”

    Let’s be lucky by being prepared.

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