San Francisco, seen from north Skyline Blvd - Courtesy of Lieven Leroy
Inside the Kings Mountain Volunteer Fire Brigade - October 2015
By Steve Johnson
With an El Nino winter coming, it’s time to talk about winter storms, which we hopefully will get many of in the next few months. Storms typically start in November, and can last as long as April. In addition to rain (which may bring flooding), they also bring high winds, and resulting trees and power lines down. The fire department can get very busy during these storms. Our priority is making sure no one is injured or killed. The next priority is property protection, starting with public roads. If we have time and resources we can help individual residents with storm-related problems.
Downed power lines are a top priority. Never go close to or try to move a downed line. It’s a good way to become a crispy critter! The fire department will block off any downed lines and call PG&E. Only when the line is de-energized can we clear the area. I’ve actually seen a downed line cause the asphalt pavement to catch fire. Trees are another big problem. One winter when it snowed, it caused numerous branches to fall on roads. We had to chainsaw our way down roads, clearing as we went along. County Roads can help, but they’re usually overwhelmed as well.
Next is flooding. If we get several inches of rain, creeks and culverts can overflow, causing a river running down the road. Be very careful if you see any flooding. Raging water carries a lot of power with it, and can sweep you and/or your car away. The department carries portable pumps that can help clear flooded areas.
Make sure you are prepared: Now is the time to get those trees trimmed, clear out culverts and drainage ditches and look at any retaining walls that may need repair. Shore up any slopes that may cause mud slides, or move the dirt away. It’s much easier to do these things in the sun rather than a cold, windy storm. Unfortunately, the fire department has to go out in these conditions when problems arise, just like PG&E.
Safety Tip of the Month: Emergency Power & Lighting
Now that winter is coming, it’s a good time to check your flashlights and other emergency lighting. Keep flashlights handy, as well as extra batteries. And fire up your emergency generator and run it for a few minutes. Don’t forget extra fuel – we’ve had outages that lasted a week or more. I don’t recommend any lantern or heater that produces a flame – they can be dangerous. There are many battery operated lights available, especially with LEDs coming to style.
Contact me at sfjohns[at]pacbell[dot]net for more information.