EL PASO COUNTY — Multiple recent wildfires with evacuations in Colorado have the attention of emergency managers. “As we see more evacuations I think we should be more cognisant,” said Pikes Peak Regional Office of Emergency Management, Director, Jim Reid. The concern is that the winter wildfires could be a precursor to rising danger during summer months.
It is reason for individuals and families to evaluate their own plans in the event of evacuation “Here’s the deal,” said Reid, “When we tell you to leave, leave. You don’t have two minutes, you don’t have three minutes, you don’t have five minutes. Get in the car and go.”
Wildfire may be the current motivator, but an emergency plan is also about floods, blizzards and other potential threats. “Helping individuals get prepared for emergencies is really important,” said Reid, “There’s a lot of peace of mind with your family when you know you’re prepared to go.”
Reid points out an essential element of community emergency preparation is shared responsibility. For example, first responders do not designate a single preferred evacuation route in advance because they do not know potential threats until they start. “That’s why we ask people to be fully aware of their neighborhood. Know multiple ways in and out. Just be familiar with it. At the time of evacuations law enforcement will tell you where you need to go, and it may be unfamiliar to you.” Individuals and families have to be part of considering more than one possible evacuation scenario.
In the Pikes Region a lot of emergency preparedness information is easily available to anyone. Guides, check-lists, video, and information on classes can all be found at the Pikes Peak Regional Office of Emergency Management website. There is also a mobile option with the Pikes Peak Prepared app that an be downloaded for free.