Summit County hosts free disaster preparedness breakfast
As wildfire season quickly approaches, Summit County’s Emergency Management Office and CSU Extension encourage residents to begin contemplating emergency plans. Their free “evacuation” breakfast will take place at the Elks Lodge in Silverthorne on Saturday morning, just in time for National Wildfire Preparedness Day.
“Really, the key thing is that people don’t have a plan. And they don’t have the general evacuation kit. So that’s part of what we’re encouraging people to think about,” Summit County’s emergency management director Joel Cochran said.
A survey released Tuesday by Federal Emergency Management (FEMA) showed most Americans are unprepared for disaster despite 80 percent living in counties that have been hit by a weather-related disaster in the last eight years. Just 39 percent of Americans have created and discussed an emergency plan, and 60 percent have not practiced evacuation or been part of a drill in the last year.
“Most people haven’t done an evacuation since elementary school,” said Colorado State University Extension director Dan Schroder.
The event will feature a whiteboard for citizens to share feedback, as well as staff from local fire departments to hear evacuation ideas and concerns.
“The point of the event is twofold,” Schroder said. “Evacuation practice is one, the other is to give the public the opportunity to share with us what they think matters.”
On top of a full breakfast provided by the Elks Lodge, the event will also feature face painting and giveaways, including plastic fire helmets for kids and a full-blown evacuation kit. The ultimate goal of the event is simply to get people out of their homes and raise awareness.
“Summit County’s done a good 10 years of educating on the wildfire risk in the community,” Cochran said. “We have an engaged group as far as the chipping program, grant program, and those are pieces of preparedness, but we’re talking about personal preparedness here. … You have surrounding trees and vegetation trimmed, but do you have a family plan? Do you have your prescriptions or important papers ready to go?”
Schroder suggested several steps to prepare for when disaster strikes. Families should develop a plan for meeting up and communicating while spread out at school, work and other locations around the county. He also suggested that individuals put together an evacuation kit containing important documents and items, such as passports, which can be easily grabbed in an emergency. Finally, he suggested taking inventory of every item in the household, which can be covered by insurance with proof.
“Take photos of everything,” Schroder said. “Walk around your house with a camera or GoPro and thoroughly inventory everything … down to the pantry. They will reimburse you for food.”
The wildfire preparedness breakfast will be held at the Elks Lodge in Silverthorne, with free entry and food from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. While the Office of Emergency Management has held several awareness events in the past, this one is earlier than usual as a relatively dry spring has already provoked a small wildfire.
“We’re just looking for ways to make our communities more resilient,” Cochran said. “That’s really the end game here.”
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