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Engaging Homeowners During the “Off-Season”: Ideas From A Collective Brainstorm

Written by Jenny Coe, WA FAC LN Staff

These homeowners from a Firewise Community in Northwest Washington came together at a late winter potluck and planning meeting to prioritize and plan Firewise projects for the following spring.

It’s December in Washington State and depending on what part of the state you live, your view may include a thick blanket of freshly fallen snow on your front yard, or maybe it’s ominous dark clouds and cold steady rain.  Either way, neither of these images drum up thoughts of wildfire danger.  Given the general lack of urgency around the threat of wildfire this time of year and a lull in activity, it can be difficult to keep homeowners engaged in wildfire preparedness.

Recognizing this challenge, WAFAC Learning Network Participants came together during a regularly scheduled topic-specific group call to share and brainstorm new ways to address this.  Here are some of the proven strategies and new ideas we discussed:

  • Facilitate and attend community meetings
    • Winter is a good time to bring people together, have neighbors get to know each other, talk about FAC and Firewise, and don’t forget the food!
  • Wildfires are happening in other parts of the country and the world this time of year
    • Use these as teachable moments by sharing on social media to draw attention to wildfire issues
  • Home & business owners focus on emergency planning
    • Develop evacuation plans
    • Contact your insurance company to find out wildfire coverage details
    • Develop emergency communication plans
    • Develop a  business continuity plan
    • Put together a “Go-bag”

Winter is a great time to focus on planning ahead. Following an emergency preparedness checklist to put together a “Go Bag” is an activity homeowners can focus on in the off-season.

Make-A-Kit Monday is an example of a fun and creative way to do this as a group effort.

  • Develop a native fire-resistant plant order list for spring landscaping projects
    • Many local native plant sales take place in late winter and early spring, so having a landscape plan with a list of fire-resistant plants ready to go will help you get a jumpstart on your Firewise landscaping.
  • Fire districts take time to connect with communities
    • Complete sidewalk surveys
    • Perform property access checks
    • Distribute door hangers
  • Use New Year’s Resolutions as an outreach tool
    • Make a New Year’s resolution “To Do” List focused on preparedness activities
  • This is a great time to record and share your success stories to give folks ideas and inspiration for spring projects.
  • Focus in on home hardening projects
    • Some of the same weatherizing activities you might do to keep the cold out could also be Firewise-type activities.  An example is replacing single pane windows with double-pane.  This keeps the house warmer AND better withstands heat and breakage during a wildfire.

The ideas shared here are just the tip of the iceberg.  WAFAC Learning Network participants are always coming up with new and innovative ways to reach people and engage in activities that foster wildfire resilience.  As new methods are developed and creative ideas are implemented, they are generously shared throughout the network.  Stay tuned for future sharing on execution of some of the great ideas listed above!