App Raises Public Awareness as Wildfires Rage

Cal Fire’s Ready for Wildfire app provides a range of information for the general public, including preparation and evacuation protocols.

by Jonathan Lansner, The Orange County Register / October 10, 2017

(TNS) -- As you watch the brute destructive power of the Canyon fire 2 — not to mention countless others — and you live anywhere near the region’s bountiful brush you often think: What if that was my neighborhood?

I stumbled on a new smartphone app from the state’s wildfire fighters. Cal Fire helps track critical fire information plus offers prevention, safety and evacuation tips.

Dubbed “Ready for Wildfire,” the app is free and available for both Android and iOS phones.

Let me I’ll be honest. I’ve barely had it on my phone for a day. But unlike many an app of all sorts I’ve test driven, I’m already impressed.

For starters, it lets the user setup alerts — notifications come via text message or push alert — of nearby wildfires tracked by Cal Fire, both from set locations (such as home or a county) or roam with you (if you are camping or hiking). The app sent out an alert about Canyon 2 at 12:05 p.m.Monday.

The app also helps a user do a deeper dive into the wildfire scene with lists and maps of wildfires being fought across California.

That includes fairly useful information and data on each wildfire plus links to deeper information. It can be frustrating to keep up with these kind of emergency situations when numerous public-safety agencies are involved. And while this app doesn’t cure that challenge, is a worthwhile tool.

Please note, this is primarily the state’s official information — not real-time news coverage — but it’s stuff that can be very helpful. And it gives you easy access to Cal Fire’s own wildfire news feed.

But what’s most impressive to me are three guides for anyone who lives anywhere near wild brush.

Like me!

It tells you the basics for prepping a property and household for wildfire season, and what a family should do when a wildfire strikes or evacuation orders are issued. And a “preparedness meter” can monitor your progress — that means “nudge” — on completing Cal Fire’s suggested wildfire tips.

Oh, sure, you can find this kind of primer in many places. But there could be a literal lifesaver within this app: Tips on what do when you’re stuck in a wildfire situation.

I will admit I did not know how to prepare a house as you evacuate to minimize it catching fire. And I was captivated to read what do if it’s a worst-case scenario and you’re trapped by the blaze — in the home, car or outside.

It’s a good bet you’ll be near your phone in such a situation and Cal Fire’s advice could save your life or the lives of loved ones. If you have the presence of mind to click on this app, following step-by-step commands could up your survival chances.

Not bad, for free.

©2017 The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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