In November, I'll be part of a panel at the NFPA Backyards & Beyond Wildfire Safety Education conference in Salt Lake City. The panel discussion topic is "Why Do We Prepare?" and takes an angle of discussing property insurance and homeowner motivation.
Watching the news today coming out of Riverside, California, I feel what I can only describe as battle fatigue when talking - AGAIN - about fire, preparedness, evacuation and home safety. But since repetition is key to learning, I'll take this opportunity to repeat our messages. So why do we prepare for wildfire? Well, some reasons are so that we don't have to show up on the news in tears, we don't have to lose everything we own, and we don't have to suffer injury or die because we weren't prepared for an inevitable major fire event.
There is a lot of arguing about what motivates people to prepare, and increasingly there is more research to point to education and engagement as helpful tools. I've been most impressed by author Linda Masterson, who will join me on the panel in November, and who has explored all of this in her own experience of losing a home to wildfire and writing a book about it. She's speaking this month in her home state of Colorado and offering advice and tips to others living with the reality of wildfire risks.
In an interview with the Summit Daily newspaper, she said about her experience, “It’s always the things you don’t do that come back to haunt you. If we were starting over, there are so many more things we would have done. But there is no rewind button. You don’t get any do-overs. Whatever you do ahead of time is all you can do because everything is else is gone.”
I can only hope that others watching the news today will take Linda's message to heart and take action today to prepare their homes and families to be safer.