By NICK HOLLOWAY
Wildfires in Montana have increased in frequency and intensity in the past decade, sometimes putting life and property at risk. May is National Wildfire Awareness month and this is the perfect time of year to evaluate your family’s readiness should a wildfire threaten your property.
If you live in a wooded area, this is the time to create defensible space around your home by removing fuel. Thinning trees and removing brush piles so that you have at least an 80 foot buffer zone around your home can dramatically lower your fire risk.
There may be some grant money available to help you accomplish this and taking this step could lower your home owners insurance cost. Check with your local fire department for more information on possible grants.
This is also a good time to call your insurance agency to ensure you have the coverage you need. Some other things you can do right now to increase your families preparedness is to make a family plan. Consider where and how you to stay in contact and meet up with each other and talk about it at the dinner table.
Events during emergencies, like fires, can change rapidly; a good way to stay informed is by following Missoula County 911 on Facebook and Twitter. During an incident, we will provide timely and actionable information to keep you informed on the latest developments. Missoula emergency responders also strongly recommend that you sign up for emergency alerts and create a Safety Profile at www.smart911.com. Missoula County provides with service, free of charge, to all Missoula County residents and visitors.
Don’t wait until the smoky skies are upon us; taking a few easy steps now will provide piece of mind that your family will be ready for wildfire season in Montana.
All disasters begin and end locally, often within the home. Prevention and preparation can go a long way to reduce negative human impacts. The Missoula County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) encourages Missoulians to:
1. Be informed. 2. Make a plan 3. Build a kit.
Follow OEM on Facebook and Twitter.
Nick Holloway is Programs Coordinator at the Missoula County Office of Emergency Management (OEM). OEM includes the Missoula 9-1-1 Center and Disaster and Emergency Services, which assists and coordinates emergency response components of Missoula County and the City of Missoula. Nick is passionate improving disaster preparedness and resilience in Missoula. Follow OEM on Facebook and Twitter.