COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Residents said they walked in feeling scared and left prepared after first responders hosted a wildfire awareness meeting Thursday night.
There were 300 people who listened to presenters at an auditorium in Cheyenne Mountain High School.
A captain from Colorado Springs Fire Department spoke alongside a representative from the Colorado Springs Police about preparing for the wildfire season.
They told residents to get important items in order and have them readily available in case of evacuation. They told attendees to make copies of important documents, organize pictures and collect sentimental items.
They recommended bringing those items to work or school on red flag days.
They also discussed the necessity of a 72-hour kit. The kits are available for purchase, but it's best to personalize it to accommodates diet issues and medications. They also recommended printing out hard copies of phone numbers in case phones' batteries die. It's also encouraged to include an extra set of car keys and a thumb drive of important documents in the kit.
Colorado Springs Police Department did not go over specific escape routes because it said it's based on fire behavior. That being said, it said drivers should plan multiple escape routes from home.
Colorado Springs Police Department already has pre-established traffic plans in place. If a wildfire strikes in a residential area, police officers will pick one of the pre-established plans most appropriate to fire behavior and execute it.
Residents are encouraged to find a safe refuge area. This can be an open area like a parking lot at a shopping mall or a golf course. Residents could go there if a fire is moving too quickly for them to escape safely.
People should designate predetermined places both in and outside of the city to meet up with loved ones.
Presenters said something law enforcement learned in the wake of Hurricane Katrina is that people will not leave without their pets. Meeting attendees were encouraged to make an evacuation plan for pets. Pet owners should also make arrangements with neighbors in case evacuations are rolled out and pets owners aren't home. Pack at 72-hour bag with pet supplies.
If fire is moving too quickly and pet owners don't have time to load up animals, open up gates and let the animals out so they can run to safety.
A foresty expert said "only fools and rookies" try to predict fire season. She said she is more optimistic about moisture levels this year than in 2012 when the Waldo Canyon Fire broke out. She said this could be an indication that fire season will start later, potentially in the fall.
A representative from an insurance company told residents most insurance policies are not enough. He encouraged people to review rebuild costs and additional structure costs. Homeowners who have recently remodeled their homes should also alert their provider about changes.
Those who attended the meeting were encouraged to register their information with the emergency notification system, which is separate from the 911 system. Operators of the emergency notification system changed technology after the Black Forest Fire because some residents did not receive phone calls during the fire. People who registered their information prior to Black Forest need to do it again because of new software.