The Santa Clarita Valley is famously known for its beautiful mountains, national forest, and open space and parks. However, the city is also infamous for something less appealing: heat and wildfires. Our city is no stranger to the impact a fire can cause to our community, and we must each make sure we are prepared to preserve the land we call our home.
As we enter a time of the year when the brush has dried to a golden brown and the Santa Ana winds begin to blow, as a community, we must do our part to protect our property, which in turn protects our community.
As the chances of wildfire increase, it is essential to keep safety at the top of the list. According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), in 2021, more than 7,500 fire incidents have been recorded, which burned almost 2 million acres of land, and more than 3,000 structures have been affected across the state. Since fire season is year-round for residents in the city of Santa Clarita, it is essential to be aware of the various ways you, and your family, can help prevent wildfires from occurring. Stay alert and be vigilant. Planning ahead can save life and property.
Preparing for the wildfires begins with an emergency supply kit — or updating your existing emergency kit. Be sure to have items such as a flashlight, non-perishable food, water, prescriptions, first aid kit, change of clothes, forms of identification and any other essentials you and your loved ones may need along with your family photos.
And don’t forget about your four-legged family members. Our pets rely on us to be diligent and prepared. Make sure to pack extra food, medication and any other necessities for your pets. There is no such thing as being over-prepared. Be ready at all times.
Residents of the city of Santa Clarita should familiarize themselves with the Los Angeles County Fire Department’s “Ready! Set! Go!” program that offers various resources to help residents create a wildfire protection plan. Being ready means removing all dead or dying vegetation that could easily catch fire from around your home — this is called “defensible space.” It prevents fire from quickly spreading through brush and vegetation.
The program offers the four elements to getting “Set,” which include creating a wildfire action plan that outlines an evacuation plan for your home, assembling an emergency supply kit, and more. Your wildfire action plan should outline important phone numbers and emergency contacts, multiple escape routes from your community and a designated emergency meeting location.
Lastly, if there is an active wildfire in your area, the program details the importance of not wasting any time during an evacuation. Ensure your bags and kit are in your vehicle, locate and load your pets and GO!
Make sure you are keeping fire safety in mind when enjoying the picturesque trails which surround our city. Santa Clarita offers residents various opportunities to explore our open space, including our beautiful hiking trails and parks. Trail users are prohibited from smoking, or lighting camp fires and warming fires — to prevent wildfires from occurring. Keeping our trails clean is necessary to allow emergency personnel easy access to the areas in case of a wildfire.
As a community, it is our responsibility to be alert at all times. We must help keep ourselves and our neighbors safe from potential wildfire danger. The time to plan is now, before you need to. The city is remaining diligent in keeping public safety first.
For more information, please visit santa-clarita.com/Emergency. Residents can also sign up to receive emergency notifications by visiting SantaClaritaEmergency.com and stay connected with the city on Facebook for up-to-the-minute information in critical situations.
Laurene Weste is a member of Santa Clarita’s City Council and can be reached at [email protected].