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Safe Living in Sonoma Valley

The merry month of May: Can parties and preparedness work together?

By Julie Atwood

Hi, neighbors! As I write this, we are enjoying a beautiful foggy May morning. Cool, damp, misty … my favorite weather. Yet, we’ve already experienced dry north wind events that prompted fire weather advisories this year.

The persistent and worsening drought is like a hammer, clanging a constant reminder to do everything we can — individually and collectively — to be better prepared for, and self-sufficient during, emergencies.

As we welcome the cautious release from pandemic isolation, we can renew our commitments to connect with neighbors to strengthen our preparedness efforts.

Are we ready? And what, exactly, does “readiness” mean for you, your family, and neighbors? And, of course, the animals!

Doing something positive is often the best way to cope with the anxiety that is part of living in the wildland-urban interface, along with being atop a major earthquake fault. You have probably done a lot already. But, like Roseanne Rosannadanna’s grandma used to say (for those who remember the original SNL): “It’s always somethin’!”

May is Wildfire Awareness Month, but we in the West, and in many other parts of the U.S. and around the world, are now facing the need to be wildfire-aware and ready year-round.

I propose that we take advantage of the deluge of spring festivals, gatherings, travel, and communion to find ways to “check in” with each other, and make readiness part of our social and familial life fabric. In keeping with the theme of “May Event Mania,” local agencies and organizations have loaded the calendar with activities. I try to participate in as many as is humanly possible, but it’s you who can truly be ambassadors of animal disaster preparedness.

Looking for ways to add greater meaning to a get-together? Host a Pet Prep Potluck or an Evac Buddy Meet & Greet. Consider an Out the Door with Pets-themed event! For those with equines or backyard farm animals, try a Load Up! Round Robin practice session with your animals’ evacuation helpers.

The message we hope to share is: Celebrate preparedness! In our very diverse communities, the need to be ready for all kinds of emergencies is a strong common thread. Finding creative ways to encourage outreach and strengthen ourselves and our neighborhoods can be life-saving, but also life-refreshing.

Resilience has become a buzzword. What does it mean to you?

Neighborhood safety, the ability to keep homes and businesses secure and families together (including their animals), are intrinsic threads in the fabric of places like the Valley of the Moon. To keep our little slices of heaven, and those with whom we share them, safe, vibrant, welcoming, and home, will require greater efforts by all of us who are able.

If you’d like to host a small animal prep workshop, get in touch with us at [email protected] to schedule one. We can provide you with free animal disaster prep materials. Just contact us to let us know your audience and how many packets you’d like.

Here’s a list of free materials available to anyone wanting to share animal preparedness packets or toolkits. We can deliver:Summer 2022 North Bay Prep (Spanish & English) Pet Prep for Senior Residential Communities (also an Oakmont-specific packet). Pet Prep for People with Caregivers Animal Disaster Action Plan for Ag & Hospitality Workers (Spanish-English combined workbook). Animal Disaster Planning for Travelers and Hospitality Managers (geared towards Airbnbs, HioCamp, small inns, wineries).

Spend some quiet time browsing the HALTER Project website at for loads of tools to help you with whatever Prep Projects you’ve got on your list, including home safety and hardening; fire-wise landscaping plants and inspiration; animal safety and evacuation planning upgrades; connecting with, and supporting, your workers — agricultural, landscape, home cleaning, restaurant, and hospitality — and their families.

The HALTER Project is here to help the whole community. The website includes an extensive library of resources in multiple languages. Have a question? Email us at [email protected] Stay informed about education opportunities and events by subscribing to our email list.

Stay tuned for neighborhood “Home & Ranch Readiness Prep” events as we slowly start gathering again … from a polite distance!

And come visit us at these upcoming events: May 22: Diamond A Evac Alert Drill & Resource Mini-Fair, location pending.

May 28: EmberStomp at the Marin County Civic Center.

Sonoma Valley Animal Ready Day, June/July (stay tuned for details) As always, stay safe and hug your animals!