After being distributed to 10,000 homes last year, a wildfire prevention video is getting a countywide release in July.
Volunteers working throughout the county will hand deliver 400,000 copies of “Before the Threat,” a 16-minute video created last year by the San Miguel Fire Consolidated Fire Protection District and Farmers Insurance Group. This year’s distribution also is supported by the county’s Office of Emergency Services, the San Diego County Fire Chief’s Association and the state’s Emergency Management Agency.
Officials said at a news conference Tuesday that they hope the public education campaign will better prepare the residents for the kind of deadly firestorms that scorched the region in 2003 and 2007.
“Our most effective firefighting tool is our residents,” said Augie Ghio, fire chief for the San Miguel district and president of the county fire chiefs’ association. “More than 51 percent of residents that we hit with this (video) last year took some kind of positive action.”
The video, which features firefighters and residents of fire-prone areas, encouraged residents to give their homes ample “defensible space” that is free of dry brush and other fire hazards.
“When faced with the difficult choice of protecting a home with defensible space and a home without defensible space, firefighters will go to the home with the defensible space because they have the best chance of saving that home,” county Supervisor Dianne Jacob said Tuesday.
In an interview with East County resident Khandy Franklin-Collins, the video emphasized the importance of being prepared to evacuate a home during a wildfire.
Franklin-Collins recommended keeping a “grab and go” box filled with important documents, such as property records, phone numbers, and videotapes that document the contents and condition of a home before a fire.
It’s important to have evacuation routes written down and to share them with friends or family who might be trying to find evacuees during an emergency, she said.
If possible, anything that’s needed on a daily basis, such as eyeglasses, medications and clothes, should be stashed in cars in case there isn’t time to gather them before evacuation, Franklin-Collins said.
The second side of the DVD contains information that viewers can access from their computers, including links to Web sites about how to prepare for the fire season, said county public information specialist Yvette Urrea Moe.
Farmers Insurance, which supported the first edition of the video, contributed $200,000 to get the DVD to 400,000 homes this year, officials said.
Farmers employees, along with firefighters, will join members of Volunteer San Diego to get the video into the hands of county residents.
Sue Carter, executive director of Volunteer San Diego, said people already have started signing up —- particularly groups such as businesses, churches and families —- but that more volunteers are needed.