PARADISE, Calif. — As wildfires are growing hotter and stronger, fire experts are trying new ways to get communities prepared.
The California Fire Safe Council, for one, is attempting to get children involved. The state council was in Paradise Wednesday, along with local fire safe council representatives from across the state, to hopefully get across the importance of fire preparedness through stories and activities. The Wildfire Ready Raccoon additionally made an appearance to aid in the learning.
It's one of several concentrated groups of Californians that the council's communication and outreach representative, Lara Popyack, says is being targeted in these educational efforts.
"We need to get these messages into every single community member's hands and that includes the kids. We're looking at kid activities, how to get them aware of what's happening in their community. We're looking at the elderly, we're looking at the homebound folks and really just going door-to-door to get the message out that right now is the time to prepare," says Popyack inside the Terry Ashe Recreation Center in Paradise Wednesday morning.
Beyond the age range, a preparedness method that's changing for all ages is the creation of a "zone 0" defensible space measurement that Butte County Fire Safe Council Executive Director Calli-Jane West says is a response to the growing intensity of wildfires.
"The most important thing I can suggest is that first five feet around the house, making sure there's no shrubs, no couch cushions, no firewood. That's really where embers land and then can burn the siding or other placed around the home."
When it comes to home hardening, these officials additionally recommend installing new grates over air vents "to prevent embers from entering a home.
But some rules never change. Both say that having a go-bag is a must in fire preparedness, along with a plan to get oneself, their family and pets out at a moment's notice. Popyack additionally adds that "the best way to be prepared" is to constantly monitor the weather and use common sense when deciding if using gardening or motor equipment at that time could potentially spark and ignite a fire.
Additional resources for preparing for the upcoming and increasing fire conditions can be found on the California Fire Safe Council website.