The Latest Apps for Wildland Fire Preparedness

With California and Nevada facing their third straight year of drought, officials are predicting a severe wildland fire season and are calling for early disaster preparedness.

Lake Tahoe Basin Wildfire Awareness Week will last the entire month of May this year. Officials are asking homeowners to start clearing their defensible space.

Mobile apps, live online fire mapping, and upgrades to information retrieval by real estate brokers make keeping up with the latest wildfire news faster and more accurate. Here are some of the latest developments.

Esri wildfire map and satellite imagery

Esri is a Redlands company that specializes in geographic information systems. The firm posts an interactive public information map online of U.S. wildfires. A recent visit showed three wildfires in California. Clicking on a wildfire icon brings up the name of the fire, its acreage, and its current containment. The map is updated frequently.

Esri is one of the companies that provides data to the White House for its climate change website. It’s helping the project to map climate change. Esri brought dramatic satellite imagery of the Rim fire to the public last year.

Red Cross mobile apps

The Red Cross’s big news in March was the addition of a flood app to its growing list of disaster preparedness phone apps. The wildfire app already exists. Download it and you’ll have access to a program that informs you of what to do before, during, and after a wildland fire — even if you can,t get a signal.

With connectivity, you can tap into the “Wildfire News” section and get the latest updates from state, local, and federal agencies. All the apps are free.

Natural Hazards Disclosure reports

The Natural Hazards Disclosure Act requires real estate sellers and brokers to disclose any hazardous areas a property falls within. These hazardous areas are mapped by local or state agencies and include wildland fire areas, as well as earthquake fault lines and flood zones.

An industry of companies that provide these reports to real estate brokers has grown up. One of the companies, Open Hazards, makes its reports available for free online and on mobile devices.

Open Hazards just announced that it has streamlined the reporting process. Real estate professionals can now get a report in minutes instead of days.

Porch’s home maintenance reports

Porch.com is a Seattle-based startup that launched five months ago and offers home improvement information, advice, and networking opportunities. It has already partnered with Lowe’s to offer its services at the giant home retail chain’s outlets.

Porch has partnered again, this time with the real estate website Realtor.com, to make the history of maintenance, repairs, and home improvements on individual houses available online or by app. Potential buyers can study repair reports on properties in hazardous zones to see what damage the house might have suffered in its past.

Being aware and being prepared are part of the realities of living close to forest grandeur. Having an app to access the latest information will help isolated residents connect with their distant neighbors.

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