Wildfire Preparedness is Year-Round: Risk and Danger in the Post-Fire Environment
Carson National Forest, TAOS, N.M., Aug. 2, 2023—Despite wet conditions in May and early June, this summer has been one of the hottest seasons in recent New Mexico history. With no monsoons to bail us out yet, the risk of wildfire remains ever persistent across the state.
Knowing your wildfire prevention safety measures is important to help keep fires from starting and spreading. But consider what happens after a fire has impacted your community. Wildfire risk isn’t just about the fire itself — risk and danger remain even after the fire has passed. Here are a number of services available and actions that can be taken to help protect families and property in fire-affected areas. The Forest Stewards Guild and the Fire Adapted New Mexico learning network (FACNM), in cooperation with our partners, are sharing the “Wildfire Preparedness is Year-Round” message for August: Risk and Danger in the Post-Fire Environment.
After Wildfire, A Guide for New Mexico Communities has been developed to assist individuals and communities following a wildfire. The guide is designed to help residents plan ahead for flooding and erosion. The guide includes information on personal and family safety, community mobilization, post-fire treatments, financial tips, flood information and additional resources such as caring for pets or livestock post-fire.
Both during and after a wildfire, immediate safety should be the first consideration. After a fire, flash flooding, structural damage, debris flows, road instability or tree damage may occur. It is critical to check with local officials before re-entering an area to ensure it is safe to do so. Additional tips include:
- Stay away from arroyos and channels. Flooding or debris flows can be sudden, and ditches can be deadly.
- Keep a battery-powered radio to listen to weather and flash flooding alerts if you lose power.
- Have an evacuation plan in place and make sure all family members practice it.
- Do not drink or use faucet water after flooding until officials say it is safe to do so.
- Use caution around trees and power poles, and never touch power lines.
- Contact utility and gas companies prior to turning on any utilities that are off or not functioning.
- Document damage and contact your insurance company prior to beginning clean-up efforts.
New Mexico’s local Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) may be able to provide help after a wildfire or post-fire impacts. For a listing of SWCDs, visit the New Mexico Association of Conservation Districts (NMACD) website.
The Forest Stewards Guild and FACNM are working with the Carson, Santa Fe and Cibola national forests, New Mexico Forestry Division, New Mexico Coalition of Conservation Districts, National Park Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs and Bureau of Land Management New Mexico to continue our wildfire preparedness calendar in 2023 and share the message across multiple platforms, including social media, webinars and community events. Bookmark the wildfire preparedness webpage to follow the campaign throughout the year.