Exercising safety and responsibility during wildfire season

June 13, 2011 • Vistas

Continuously, there have been wildfires burning all over the Southwest. As we speak, the air quality in several areas of New Mexico is poor due to smoke from a devastating wildfire burning in Arizona. Many areas have been closed by the Forest Service as a result of the extreme fire danger in most parts of New Mexico. So when I got this wildfire safety idea and began to think about camping and campfires, my first thought was “YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING!” Who would even consider such a thing in this hot and very dry summer?
Certainly, I know that there are people and families who are planning such trips, and who will do so quite safely and with great [auth] care. Importantly, however, you should find out some very clear information before you travel. Make very sure that you can legally camp or have some kind of family outing in the forest at all. I just glanced at a website and found that there are different rules in all parts of the state. For example, the Lincoln National Forest is has a Full Forest Closure due to the danger of fire. Several other public lands have the same situation. On the other hand, there are some areas of the state which allow certain camping, but with very severe restrictions. (Personally, I think I’ll go to the golf course!)
Allow me to direct you to a website which will be beneficial to you for these purposes. Under you will find a great deal of information. You can start there and undoubtedly find plenty of other sites for detailed information not only for New Mexico, but for other states as well.
Additionally, for those of you who may own property in areas of extreme fire danger, I found a great booklet published by the International Association of Fire Chiefs. You can find it at . It includes a Wildfire Action Plan, which is intended to save lives and property through advance planning. It defines “defensible space” which firefighters need to protect your home, and such things as a “hardened home,” which will have the best chance to survive a wildfire. There are also checklists to prepare a family for an emergency.
There will come a time when we can safely enjoy a few days in the forest, when we can camp out and build a campfire with confidence. Meanwhile, however, we must be very, very careful in what we do. For those of you who do travel to campgrounds or to the mountains, educate yourself in how to do that without placing yourself, those you love, and the land you love in jeopardy.
Thinking about setting up a Neighborhood Watch? Call Richard and Steve at 622-SAFE (7233) for information. And don’t forget, the number for Chaves County Crime Stoppers is 1-888-594-TIPS (8477).

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