Whether it’s an ice storm, a wildfire, or another natural disaster, volunteers from Benton County Community Emergency Response Team (BCCERT) have been trained to help their neighbors respond. Pam Wilson is a retired teacher and a trained BCCERT member who has created this blog post series to help Benton County residents prepare for emergencies. This is the first installment.
When my neighbors and I gathered to discuss the ice storm/electrical outage of February, we decided it would be a good idea to share general safety information and how to receive timely updates regarding fire in the valley. With all-time record high temperatures, very low relative humidity, and that always-present wind, fire is probably on people’s minds. Whether you are already well-prepared or not, now is a good time to revisit the topic and possibly reorganize and rethink your plan.
I volunteered to provide tips to get ready for the next event/disaster and to prepare for possible evacuation due to fire. The idea is to work steadily at getting ready so we don’t get overwhelmed. So here are tips for the first week.
- Linn-Benton Alert – Sign up for Linn-Benton Alert. If you are signed up, review and update your information so it goes to whom you want and on what specific devices. Being on the system will automatically bring you into the Statewide OR-Alert system.
- Go to co.benton.or.us/sherrif to sign up or modify enrollment.
- Call 541-766-0245, BCSO emergency management planner to get help over the phone to sign up.
- Nixle – Also sign up for Nixle, which shares information about Corvallis fire and police alerts as well as traffic situations. If it is on Nixle and I have to go to town, I avoid the emergency.
- To opt into this program text CORVALLIS to *888777. You can also text your zip code to the same number.
- Out-of-State Contact – Set up an out-of-state contact and notify all family. This is not for your Facebook page! This is where you call and leave information so family concerned about you has a place to get information. Then give family the contact information so they know where to call/text/email. Why out-of-state? Infrastructure may be destroyed here but still be standing in Arizona.
- Gas half-full – Keep the gas tank in your vehicles at least half full. In terms of evacuation, you do not want to run out of gas and block others from evacuation.
- Clean gutters – Clean out your gutters of leaves and debris. When we look at fire behavior, embers in gutters set houses afire!
- Watch a video – The Benton County Sheriff’s office has a Hazard: Wildfire page with lots of great resources including two videos to help you prepare. I recommend 2021 Wildfire Preparedness Webinar by County Emergency Manager, Bryan Lee. It is chock-full of ideas and it’s a great starting point.
- Fire Aware, Fire Prepared – Another great local resource is OSU Fire Extension’s series of one-hour webinars called Fire Aware, Fire Prepared: Wildfire Wednesdays. I highly recommend the 4/28 seminar titled Be Ready, Be Set, Go.
Hope this is helpful and gets you started or reminds you to resume your preparedness activities. Which steps have you already taken? Which step will you take today?