Years ago, I participated in an “emergency and fire preparedness” work group with the Carlsbad (Calif.) Fire Department, the City of Carlsbad and the chamber of commerce. We worked on a platform to best educate our community for such preparedness.

Unlike New Mexico’s fire season, California’s can be year-round. For me, that threat hit very close to home.

I lived three miles from the beach, yet my neighborhood was on high alert for a fire invasion. My home was on the berm of a canyon, which evidently provides the perfect passageway for a fire. That is, depending on which way the wind is blowing.

The fire started to the west with a strong onshore wind. It crept to within a mile of my home.

The canyon filled with smoke. Police saturated our community, making announcements to evacuate.

We were ready. Car packed with cats in carriers, their food and medications, water, some valuables and clothes, and my important documents.

Not everything was stored on the computer. Oh, of course, my computer!

The wind suddenly shifted.

Fast forward to today. First, kudos to the Rio Rancho Fire and Rescue Department for the document on its website, a “Home Fire Escape Plan.” It includes such tips as: Draw a map of your home; find two ways out; make sure your home has working smoke alarms.

That said, I suggest the website needs an updated emergency preparedness plan. There is a webpage titled “Personal Preparedness.” It needs a more direct heading like “Prepare for an Emergency.”

The page offers suggestions in paragraphs. Bullet points with single, easy-to-understand statements would be more effective. The message needs to be succinct.

The Carlsbad fire department provides a good example: carlsbadca.gov/departments/fire.

The differences between a fire escape plan and an emergency preparedness plan are that the latter is for all kinds of emergencies, and it offers steps to protect you and your family in the event of a threat. The latter helps you pre-plan what you’ll need immediately and in the near future.

It’s like planning to go on a long-stay trip. You include clothes, medications, in-case-of-emergency contact on your phone and your itinerary.

Then you add important documents like insurance papers and banking information, cash, computers, blankets, pet food, nonperishable food and water, and back-up batteries. Make a reservation in a pet-friendly hotel ahead of the evacuation.

This is the beginning of your emergency preparedness kit.

This plan does not operate in a silo. Include your family. Consider their needs, including pets and farm animals.

Let’s please be more prepared. Let’s share such information in our communities and plan to escape the wrath of fire emergencies.


Sue A. Prelozni

Rio Rancho