An easy checklist for fire preparedness

At the Board of Supervisors meeting on July 23, we received an excellent report from Fire Chief Lewis Broschard and Sheriff’s Capt. Tory Kornblum about each agency’s emergency preparedness and evacuation plans in the event of wildfires in Contra Costa County.

I want to share some key takeaways, especially in light of the Marsh Complex fire that threatened homes in the hills surrounding Clayton earlier this month.

There are many ways to be prepared, and I will detail some important strategies from the report that you can employ to keep your household safe.

First, prepare your home. Create defensible space around your house by clearing dead and dying vegetation from the roof, gutters, and decks and ensure that tree limbs are at least 10 feet away from structures. Regularly cut grasses and clear brush within 30-100 feet of your home and keep any woodpiles or combustibles in this zone. Regularly check smoke detector batteries as well.

Second, pack a go-bag with emergency essentials and ensure that it is ready in an accessible location. Always back your car into the driveway.

Third, create a plan with your loved ones. Some questions to think about are: Where will you go in the event of a fire, and what are some routes that you can take to get there? Designate an out-of-town relative to be the point of contact should there be disruptions in cell networks.

Fourth, register with the Community Warning System to stay apprised of fire dangers and all other emergencies in your community. Call 925-313-9622, or visit to register for emergency warnings. Emergency information is always available at KCBS 740AM.

Fifth, get to know your neighbors and discuss how you will keep each other safe in the event of a wildfire. Check in with mobility-restricted neighbors to see if they have a plan of action.

With wetter winters and hotter summers each year, a heightened wildfire risk is likely to be the new normal in our county. However, by following these steps, we can all be ready.

To learn more about how to prepare for wildfires, visit

Karen Mitchoff is Contra Costa County District IV supervisor. Email questions or comments to Mitchoff at