Fire season traditionally used to reach its peak after Labor Day. This year, fire season arrived early. So far, the Santa Monica Mountains have been spared, although a 15-acre blaze in Malibu Creek State Park was an uncomfortable reminder of what may be in store this fall. We are indeed more fortunate than our northern neighbors. So far this year in California more than 7,000 fires have scorched through more than 1.4 million acres, making this one of the most active fire seasons we’ve ever encountered. Governor Gavin Newsom said recently, by way of context that “by this point in 2019, 4,292 fires had burned 56,000 acres across the state.”
This is a great time to bookmark disaster resources, review Topanga’s excellent survival handbook, and stock up on emergency essentials like flashlights and backup batteries. Fire is inevitable in the Santa Monica Mountains, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be prepared to survive it.
General weather: https://forecast.weather.gov
Weather alerts: https://alerts.weather.gov/cap/ca.php?x=1
Fuel/vegetation moisture level reports: https://fire.lacounty.gov/fire-weather-danger/
Purple Air is a network of individually owned air monitors that provide air quality data that is available to everyone. It offers an in depth look at air quality, neighborhood, by neighborhood. Helpful when there is smoke from wildfires. Fire isn’t the only hazard during wildfire season. https://www2.purpleair.com
For the official Los Angeles County Air quality warnings, visit Los Angeles County https://lacounty.gov/residents/environment/air-quality/
Current Emergency Status for Topanga
T-CEP remains the gold standard for neighborhood emergency preparedness. The emergency status page is updated whenever there is any situation that may pose a risk to Topanga residents. http://t-cep.org/emergencystatus/
General Incident Info
Los Angeles County Fire Department Blue 3 Scanner Feed. Provides live scanner feed for local incidents. https://www.broadcastify.com/webPlayer/21021
CalFire’s Daily Wildfire Report. Daily incident updates from CalFire. More helpful for wildland fires than for incidents in the local urban wildland interface, but still useful. https://www.fire.ca.gov
Fire Safe Home Ignition Zone Evaluation and Volunteer Training (HIZEP): http://www.rcdsmm.org/
Also by RCDSMM. Sustainable Defensible Space website for Eco-Appropriate Homescaping for Wildfire Resilience
From California State Senator Henry Stern. Be ready for Southern California Edison to initiate Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) once again this year. The lack of notice and the lack of tools to help you get through these blackouts are issues being addressed by the State Legislature.
In the meantime, sign up for SoCal Edison PSPS alerts by texting ENROLL to 28954. If you or someone you know relies on powered medical equipment sign up for SoCal Edison’s Medical Baseline program for financial assistance and advanced alerts.
If you’ve been alerted to a potential PSPS and know someone who is vulnerable, call the California Health and Human Services hotline at 833-284-3473.
SOS Survival Products sells everything from flashlights and walkie talkies to pre-assembled disaster kits. The goto source for emergency supplies. 15705 Strathern St #11, Van Nuys, CA 91406, (800) 479-7998, https://www.sosproducts.com. The showroom is currently closed but curbside pickup is available by appointment
Check List and Go Bag
- Face masks or coverings (at least two per person)
- Sanitation supplies such as hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol, soap and disinfectant wipes
- Map marked with at least two evacuation routes
- Medication, supplies and home-use medical devices
- Medications list: include all prescriptions and other important medical information
- An extra set of keys
- Eyeglasses or contact lenses
- A change of clothes, extra pair of comfortable shoes
- Cash in small bills
- First-aid kit
- A portable radio and batteries
- Charging cables for your cellphone and a portable cellphone battery pack
- Easily carried valuables
- Personal computer information on hard drives and disks
- Extra chargers for cellphones, laptops, etc.
- Family photos and other irreplaceable items
- Emergency blanket, extra blankets or sleeping bags
- Backup batteries for photos and laptops
- A copy of your ID and other important documents (birth certificates, passports, etc.)
- Baby supplies, if applicable
- Water: one gallon a person, per day (three-day supply for evacuation, two-week supply for home)
- Food: nonperishable, easy-to-prepare items (three-day supply for evacuation, two-week supply for home)
You may have to walk to safety, so pack your emergency supplies in something that’s durable and easy to carry, such as a backpack or duffle bag. For heavier items, such as food and water, using a tub or chest on wheels may make it easier to transport — but make sure it’s still light enough to lift.
Pet emergency bag list: If you have pets, Cal Fire has put together this list of items to make sure you bring, which includes:
- A carrier for each pet
- Vaccination and medical records, proof of ownership, a current photo, contact information for the pet’s veterinarian
- Two week supply of food and water
- Food and water bowls that are non-spill
- Medications and instructions on dosing
- A cat litter box and litter
- Waste disposal bags
- Toys and treats
For more information on transporting pets, larger animals and livestock, check Cal Fire’s guide here.
For families with pets, children, elderly family members, it’s a good idea to evacuate early. Now is the time to arrange a place to stay, either with friends or family. Short term rentals, especially ones that accommodate animals, can fill up fast during a major disaster like Woolsey. While Red Cross shelters offer immediate help and shelter, may Woolsey Fire evacuees were displaced for weeks. Planning now can avoid adding stress to what is already one of the most stressful experiences any of us ever face.
Other Good Things to Know
$$$ SCE REBATESI thought I should make sure you all know that Southern California Edison has programs to help homeowners and small businesses prepare for the PSPS, including REBATES if you purchase back up power batteries or generators or solar power systems or solar batteries (or have recently purchased them). https://www.sce.com/wildfire/customer-resources-and-support
Back up Batteries that are eligible for $50 rebates. Power Generators or Solar panels– up to $500 rebates. https://marketplace.sce.com/
MEDICAL DEVICES If you have medical equipment that requires power, they have many programs to help you get set up with back up power — take advantage of them! https://www.sce.com/residential/assistance/medical-baseline?from=/medicalbaseline
PSPS ALERTSMake sure you are signed up with SCE for their alerts regarding PSPS https://www.sce.com/wildfire/psps-alerts