An upcoming evacuation training May 19 in Highlands Ranch will prepare residents for the real thing, while simultaneously first responders will go through their own preparation at the Highlands Ranch Law Enforcement Training Facility.
Those who are in the area and are not participating in the drill should expect to see a high number of firefighters and other first responders that day, but are to be aware that it is just a drill and there is not an actual emergency occurring.
“It’s important to think globally as a community that this could happen to any of us at anytime,” said Fran Santagata, director of emergency management for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. “By preparing in advance, and knowing what you are going to take and what you are going to do it makes the actual evacuation much easier.”
And while fire is at the forefront of most people’s minds following the Lower North Fork Fire, Santagata pointed out that there are numerous other potential causes for an evacuation in Douglas County, including flooding, oil or gas leaks, a hazmat spill, or a bomb threat.
Communicating with family members about what to do and where to go if that call comes in is the most important thing, she said, recommending that people prepare a 72-hour emergency kit to have ready in case an evacuation is imminent.
The kit should contain such items as food and water, pet supplies, money, credit cards, and irreplaceable items such as wills, marriage and birth certificates, social security cards and the like if you do not have those stored in a safe elsewhere.
“It’s crucial to think about these things in advance,” she said. “You won’t be thinking clearly when a fire is in your backyard and you have 30 seconds to pack and get out.”
Santagata added that in preparing for a potential evacuation one of the most important things residents can do is sign up for everbridge at www.dcsheriff.net.
Everbridge is Douglas County’s equivalent to a reverse 911 call. When registering a person can sign up to receive an emergency notification via home phone, cell phone, work phone, PDA, email, Fax, IM or text.
It is also important she said for anyone with special needs to register with Douglas County’s special needs registry. This can be done by calling 303-660-7589 or emailing email@example.com.
For more information on how to prepare for an evacuation or what to place in your 72-hour preparedness kit, go to www.dcsherrif.net.