By LYNETTE HAALAND
Four Points News
During Wildfire Awareness Month in May, Councilmember Alison Alter has been working hard to raise awareness about the risks of wildfire.
“We, as a community, are at risk of a wildfire. We’re structurally the fifth most at risk area of the country,” Alter said, adding that wildfire awareness is crucial for all Central Texans.
Alter, who represents District 10 which includes large parts of Four Points, and several fire chiefs hosted an event on May 18 to share the importance of being prepared.
“We had a special guest at the council meeting – Smokey Bear,” Alter said. “(Also) Austin Fire Department and Austin Fire Department-Wildfire Division joined me for a proclamation in honor of Wildfire Awareness Month.”
The Four Points area knows too well the dangers of wildfire: Steiner Ranch lost 23 homes over Labor Day weekend in 2011.
Alter says that everyone has a part to play in keeping the Austin community safe. Knowing the risk level your home is in is the first step. The Wildfire Division at the Austin Fire Department has put together a Wildfire Report for each Council district.
As members of the community assess their geographical risk and prepare their homes, Alter asks that everyone consider the following actions to protect against the threat of wildfire:
- Regularly monitor wildfire conditions. Hot, dry, and windy weather creates the perfect environment for a wildfire.
- Sign up for Warn Central Texas, a free, opt-in emergency notification service. Disaster alerts via app, text, call, or email, along with safety instructions and evacuation orders are relayed. Only residents in the immediate area of impact will be alerted.
- Create a Wildfire Action Plan for your family and pets. Go to the Austin-Travis County Wildfire Coalition’s Ready, Set, Go! guide, or the Texas Department of State Health and Services’ Family Emergency Plan template.
- Learn all possible evacuation routes in your area. Pack an easily accessible Go Kit with emergency supplies.
- Create a defensible space on your property and implement fire-smart landscaping practices. The Austin Fire Department has created an excellent fire prevention guide for roofing and ventilation openings. The Texas A&M Forest Service has also crafted a guide to help fortify your property from embers, which can travel up to 1.5 miles from the main fire and start fires elsewhere.
- Connect with your local Firewise community. Several neighborhoods in District 10 are already Firewise and we would like to work with other areas to connect you with resources.