San Bernardino National Forest, CA, August 16, 2013 — By early April, California was already showing signs of having one of the most active fire seasons in history. In our county in particular, low moisture, plentiful fuels, and the forthcoming Santa Ana winds pose a triple threat. Are you prepared?

The San Bernardino National Forest regularly experiences single-digit humidity levels, but with rainfall totals ranging from 5-25% of average in the region, 2013 looks to be one of the driest years in recent memory.  So the San Bernardino County Fire Department urges you to take the following precautions:

* Create defensible space around your home. Defensible space is an area that extends 100 feet from the structure or to the property line. Initial steps to creating this space begin with clearing all dead or dying vegetation from the ground, roofs, underneath decks and around propane tanks. Cleaning out rain gutters and moving wood piles at least thirty feet from structures are also included in this space creation. This is also a time to ensure that your address is clearly visible from the street, so firefighters can easily identify your residence.

* Create a family disaster plan that includes meeting locations and communication plans. Remember that during a natural disaster, cell towers may be overburdened with traffic; text messages are more likely to be successful than phone calls. Have several different escape routes and plan a meeting location that is outside of the fire area. If you own horses or large animals, plan on how you would evacuate them as well.

* Evacuate early when it’s called for. Leaving early allows firefighters to focus on their jobs. It also decreases traffic, which allows multiple fire engines to operate in smaller neighborhoods.

* Use equipment wisely. Weedeaters, chain saws, and hot exhaust pipes or mufflers can all spark a wildland fire.