With New Mexico burning, Santa Fe is blessed — for now — fire is not burning here.

But fire is opportunistic. A stray spark, a careless match and a turn of high winds could carry flames of destruction to our doorsteps.

That’s why preparation is essential.

To that end, Santa Fe County is hosting two workshops on preparing for fire so individuals, their homes and the community are safer. The city of Santa Fe held a fire preparedness workshop Monday, and residents can watch it on the city’s YouTube channel at youtube.com/user/cityofsantafe.

The first county workshop is from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Hondo Fire Station 2, 645 Las Vegas Highway, with the second from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. May 18 at Pojoaque Fire Station 1, 17919 U.S. 84/285. The presentations will be streamed on the county YouTube channel. That workshop is at bit.ly/3N8Crkn.

Emergency experts in the county want all residents to sign up for alerts — now, before there is a need to communicate. The events also will teach people how to prepare and prevent wildfires.

The county has in place the Ready, Set, Go! Personal Wildfire Action Plan and its Alert Santa Fe notification system. Those will help make navigating an emergency less stressful.

With the fires burning near Los Alamos, Las Vegas, N.M., and Mora, we all have seen maps colored red, yellow and green. Red means ready; yellow is set; and green, like the traffic light, is go.

Even before the fire commanders come on the scene or an emergency occurs, the readiness portion should start.

Each family should have a disaster plan, including figuring out where to meet after a disaster and how to communicate while it’s happening. Rehearse it. Figure out what to do with animals, whether they be small dogs or large horses. Have a go bag packed and ready. For ideas on what to include, the New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management’s preparedness guide is helpful. You can find it at nmdhsem.org/2022-wildfires/.

Keep an extra kit in the car and truck. And don’t forget important family documents — birth certificates, deeds, insurance policies and the like.

Some survivors of past wildfires, upon seeing the thick smoke in the skies in recent days, have begun photographing possessions. This helps when making insurance claims.

The “set” notification means there’s been a decision that evacuation is increasingly likely. This is when people should pay more attention to weather conditions and fire status. Watch local news or look at the santafenewmexican.com website; inciweb.nwcg.gov and nmfireinfo.com are also excellent sources of information. For people unconnected to the internet, radio stations can be a lifeline.

In “set,” it’s time to load up the car and make sure all members of the family have the evacuation plan and contact information.

“Go” is self-explanatory — it means leave, and do it quickly. Getting out of the way helps emergency responders fight the fires, and it means evacuees can get through without being caught in smoke or flames. In many of our wildfires, we have seen roads clogged with traffic because there is only one way out; leaving early can help alleviate congestion. And in the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon Fire, officials have emphasized the problems blinding smoke causes.

Their message: Don’t wait for the smoke to become paralyzing.

Remember, too, all of us — tribal, city and county residents — can work to make our property safer from flames. Everything from creating defensible space around structures, clearing flammable materials and moving wood piles away from buildings can help keep homes safe should a fire sweep through. A guide at facnm.org/wildfire-preparedness can help property owners learn what to do to decrease fire danger.

The precautions individuals take protect themselves and their loved ones but also keep the community safer. The more we do now — together — the better off Santa Fe and Santa Fe County will be in case wildfires show up here.

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