Ready, Set, Go! Manual

Log Hill Mesa Evacuation Brochure

Simms Fire Aftermath: Time for Personal Evaluations

As the excitement and sometimes terror generated by the Simms Fire begin to settle down, we all should reflect on lessons in our own lives and what we should learn from them.  Firstly, our hearts go out to those affected directly by the fire.  Those who lost homes or had their property changed forever by this fire are in our prayers and thoughts as they move forward.

For those of us not directly affected, but who once again felt the concern mounting as we contemplated the need to evacuate, we should look to what preparations need to be made in our personal lives that will make evacuation easier if needed.  Over the next several days, we will share tips and resources that will help you prepare for the next emergency. 

Day 1 of preparedness week:  Information is critical in knowing whether you need to evacuate or start to prepare to evacuate.  The county has several ways of getting word out to those affected.  CodeRed and WENS are two methods used by officials to pass information about emergencies or evacuations.  Every phone in Ouray County should be registered in these systems and you should consider signing up for the email alerts also.  CodeRed automatically registers traditional landline phones, but cell phones, SAT phones and VOIP phones need to be entered in the system.  Links to register for CodeRed and WENS are on the County Emergency Management page at:

Day 2 of Preparedness week:  Making a plan for your family during non-emergency times and practicing that plan will ensure your family has a better chance to get out safely with all the essentials if evacuated.  The most concise information on making a plan we have found is the Ready, Set, Go Manual.  This manual talks about preparing your home and family for a wildfire.  While many of these concepts focus on preparing for a wildfire, the evacuation plan, go bag are items that can be used during any emergency.  A copy of the Ready, Set, Go Manual is at:

Day 3 of Preparedness week:  Each family is different.  Each family changes over time. has vast resources for many scenarios a family may face.  It has resources about large and small animals, the elderly and children.  Many of its resources are in different languages if that is a concern.  A trip to is probably not on anyone’s bucket list, especially as the weather warms and summer beckons, but a little preparation now can save a lot of worry and maybe some heartache in the future.  That website is

Day 4 of preparedness week:  If you feel overwhelmed by the prospect of preparing your home to have a better chance of surviving a wildfire, Contact the West Region Wildfire Council for assistance.  You can schedule a site visit where they will discuss hardening your home to better resist a wildfire and the storm of embers which they can cause.  They can also help you prepare a defensible space project, help you at every step of the process and help pay for the work.  They may be very busy after the recent fire, but if you are patient, you will get the attention you deserve.  Visit them at to schedule an appointment today.

Day 5 of preparedness week:  As with every instance when we get to talk about emergency preparedness, we would be remiss if we did not mention that Ouray County relies on a small cadre of volunteer firefighters to help protect our homes.  Log Hill Fire, like almost every volunteer fire department in the country has seen a decline in volunteers in the past decade.  We recently sent letters to residents in our northern mesa zone along with a brochure outlining the benefits and responsibilities of volunteering because our need for firefighters is most acute in that area.  For those of you who are able to possibly take on the role of volunteer firefighter, ask yourself the question;  If you don’t volunteer, who will?  You can see our brochure at

Day 6 of Preparedness Week:  Insurance.  No one likes to talk about insurance.  No one likes to consider what would go into making an insurance claim after losing your home to a wildfire or any other type of disaster—but everyone should!  For a great first-hand account of the aftermath of a wildfire, Linda Masterson’s book, Surviving Wildfire, is a great resource.  They lost their home on the front range in 2011 to wildfire.  This book details many things they could have done to help their home survive, but it also gives an in-depth tutorial on home insurance and their struggle to rebuild and maximize their reimbursement from their insurance.  There is a copy at the Ridgway Library.

Day 7 of Preparedness Week:  After all of the preparation goes in to signing up for notifications, making a plan, creating defensible space and fine-tuning your insurance, many of us would like to sit back and rest.  There is one thing, however that is an on-going requirement to making sure you are prepared for a disaster—maintenance.  While not a heavy burden, regular maintenance of your plan, your home inventory, and your home, will go a long way to ensuring success.  Let’s concentrate on maintenance of your defensible space.  After clearing away all the light flashy fuels near your home, on your rooftop or in your gutters, you should check a minimum of once a year to prevent build-up.  We all know the pine needles tend to shed like a wet Labrador.  We all need to occasionally check to see that they don’t build up.  The same thing goes for making sure nothing else that is flammable gets moved up near the house which could lead to your home catching fire.

Bonus Day of Preparation Week:  If you have checked your insurance coverage, you know that a good home inventory is essential for recouping the maximum amount from the insurance coverage you have paid for many years.  However, the thought of inventorying our house seems daunting for many of us.  Pictures and or video of your house and its contents can help in this task.  Open the cabinet doors and try to get photos that show the contents.  Another source of information is the folder many of use keep with operator manuals and warranties.  Photocopy the front page and that will help jog your memory when it comes time to submit your claims.  All this info can be stored on a flash drive in a safe deposit box or with a family member who lives out of the immediate danger area.

Click here to view a map of the district