Wildfires – Prevent & Prepare [May 2022 Community Associations Journal]
Wildfires – Prevent & Prepare
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Temperatures On The Rise
Every season, we see news stories of suburban areas and sometimes entire towns being destroyed by raging wildfires. They sweep through areas faster than firefighting crews can contain them.
Wildfire Prevention and Preparation for Condominiums and Homeowners Associations
 Evaluate Your Community’s Risk
If you live in a condo over the water, your association’s risk of wildfire will be different from another that borders a forested area or overgrown neighboring parcels. Check with the landscaper about vegetation management and seek options for burn-resistant plants.
Question: If you walked through your community right now, how many wildfire risks can you identify?
 Educate Your Community
Too often, community residents think of wildfire as something that happens somewhere else, like an old-growth forest in the middle of nowhere. The National Fire Protection Association (NAFP) has abundant resources for public education about wildfire risks. Likewise, their Firewise USA program will assist your community in understanding how to prepare for and reduce the risk of wildfire in your community.
Question: What resources does your community use to inform its residents about wildfire risks and prevention?
 Develop a Plan
It’s best to have two ways to evacuate your community, and all the residents need to know exactly where they are and how to access them. Therefore, be sure this information is included in the welcome packet for new owners moving into the association.
Encourage all owners to be prepared for an evacuation by having a pre-packed ‘go bag’ that contains copies of important documents, emergency contact numbers, prescriptions and medications, emergency cash or credit card, and a first-aid kit including hygiene items and emergency fire blankets. In the same vein, don’t forget pets’ needs!
Question: At what point should you evacuate if a wildfire is near your home?
 Review Your Insurance
Engage in a candid conversation with your insurance agent about wildfire coverage. Be sure you know if your rates are based on historical loss or projected risk. Furthermore, seek ways the association can reduce the projected risk through environmental design and proactive vegetation management.
Question: Do you have your insurance information easily accessible for an emergency evacuation?
A Human Imperative
Although this information may seem obvious, it does not make it any less important or valuable. In a world where you can ask your virtual device to do everything from playing music to having food delivered, fire preparedness and prevention are still human endeavors. “Alexa, play The Sound of Sunshine.”
Joy Steele is a Community Manager for HOA Organizers, Inc. and a member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, and Toastmasters. In her spare time, she enjoys pursuing creative endeavors and spending time with loved ones.