Firefighters, we respect them. We get out of their way when they’re racing to a scene. We crowd around their trucks when they’re at a fair or a parade. We can tend to think that every firefighter is like every other firefighter, hanging out at a fire station while waiting for a call that demands immediate action. Yes, and no.
But what does firefighting look like on an island? Follow along as we discuss firefighting island style.
Firefighting Island Style
Oak Harbor is a city with paid firefighters and a place where a lot is going on in a small space. Trucks have to navigate a grid of streets and the traffic on them. Houses are close and that can mean fires are close, too, but so are fire hydrants. There are plenty of stereotypes that can apply. Spotted mascot optional.
In most parts of the country that might be enough, but the island is large enough and long enough that some other solutions are necessary. If the neighborhood is remote enough, they may have some creative solutions to fight fires in the interim after getting to safety and making that call to 911. An easy situation to imagine is a waterfront house that may require a fireboat. It takes time to collect the crew, launch the boat, and power their way to the site – tides, currents, and weather allowing. A lot can happen in the first few minutes of a fire. Any help can be appreciated – and incredibly valuable.
Rural areas also have to guard against brushfires and barn fires. Long roads mean accidents can happen far from the station. Even places that are accessible by a pickup may be too windy and twisty to maneuver in a firetruck, which eventually also has to turn around and get back to the station. Some fires may even be on boats, both in the marina and off-shore.
A Unique Mix
At the other end of the scale is the unique fire district that is the Navy’s. Airports have special requirements and tools, and military airports have to handle even more specialized situations because of what their planes can carry. The need for an immediate response is an understatement.
Fortunately, while there are various types of firefighting arrangements, when the need is there they all gather to help each other. City, base, and rural doesn’t matter as much as ‘where is the fire and how can we help?’
If you haven’t heard much about the variety, great! That means the crews are doing what they have to do to stay out of the headlines. In firefighting, boring can be good. Too exciting can be too much. This is firefighting island style.
Whidbey has some other attributes worth remembering. Whidbey is a lot of small-town America wrapped around a city and a base. Most of it has fewer people because it is rural. That also means that firefighting crews can sometimes be understaffed. (Pay attention to the election initiatives to see their current situation.) While rural can be quaint, sometimes the small-town nature that leads to smaller firefighting crews becomes critically apparent. A few places have paid firefighters, but much of the island is served by a few stations with a few paid firefighters who rely heavily on backup volunteers. They have rules to follow, just like the rest of us. (In 2018, another fire department in WA was cited for violating the state’s version of OSHA’s two-in two-out requirement.) Of course, more paid firefighters mean they need more budget. Not an easy problem. Think about that. A few paid people; and other people who risk their lives for us for free. They deserve greater thanks than they receive. (Please, volunteer!)
Surprisingly the bulk of their workload comes from medical emergencies. Over 60% of their time is spent with Basic Life Support calls where they work side by side with the paramedics. In some places that is over 80%. They have to be ready for everything: motor vehicle accidents, rescues on land or on water, storm responses, traffic control, power outages, and downed lines. It isn’t just about fires and ambulances.
So much for sitting around the firehouse. These people are busy.
How you can help
Of course, there are ways to keep them less busy (and keep costs down). Much of this is variations of the messages we’ve heard since school: follow safety instructions, keep fresh batteries in smoke detectors, make sure any electrical work is done right, remove trash and other flammables. Some things are even simpler: don’t leave burning candles or fire unattended, don’t burn during burn bans, handle fireworks legally and safely. Keep fire extinguishers handy and up-to-date.
There are plenty of other precautions, but that’s part of being a responsible adult.
How this relates to homeowners on Whidbey
Understanding a place’s fire situation is also something to keep in mind when considering buying a house. What is the firefighters’ response time? Where’s the nearest hydrant or nearest firehouse (is it even staffed)? Is the house marked well enough for a crew to be able to find it in the dark, maybe during a storm? Your insurance company may have some ideas to add to the list.
If you live in rural Island County some additional services they might offer include: installing high visibility house address numbers; home safety surveys to reduce the risk of harm from fire, accident, or illness; smoke and carbon monoxide detector check; fire inspections for businesses; CPR training; child car seat safety checks.
Chief Helm says “In an emergency, we need to be as efficient as possible, and the partnership between homeowners and the fire department is critical. Maintaining reflective address signs and driveways that fire trucks can navigate down is very important. One of our biggest hurdles is locating the emergency in a hurry, and then navigating a driveway that may or may not be able to handle a 40,000lb, 11-foot tall truck. Many times, the storybook-style narrow wandering lane, sounds peaceful and relaxing, but can pose serious problems if our trucks cannot access your house. Please remember to maintain not only driveways but the surrounding vegetation and hanging branches that will damage a truck the size of ours. Together with your help, we make this Island a safer place to live and work. We are more than happy to visit your driveway and test fit our apparatus, as well as bring you a reflective address sign anytime.”
One of the most delightful rural traditions on Whidbey is the annual Santa Mobile where Central Whidbey Fire Department drives around different neighborhoods with Santa Claus on top of one of their Fire Engine for multiple nights in a row in December. They will put out a schedule and a map on their Facebook page in preparation every year. Kids love it! It’s also a fundraiser for collecting food and donations for the food pantry in Coupeville.
Fortunately, most folks pay attention to safety. It’s part of being a homeowner and a good neighbor. Do enough of those boring but necessary steps, and free up time to relax and enjoy the rest of island life. Just check for burn bans before stoking up a campfire.
If you have additional questions about firefighting island style your reliable Windermere real estate agent can help you get them answered. Don’t have an agent? Connect with us here.
Horses have been a prominent animal throughout history, dedicated to their human’s side. Many would go as far as to suggest that horses, just as dogs, cats, and other pets can be man’s best friend. Like other pets, horses can contribute to the health, wellbeing, and happiness of their humans so much so that there have been people that contribute overcoming their mental illnesses to using a technique called Equine Horse Therapy. Likewise, many children have found companionship in their horses and have grown to learn valuable life lessons from them.
While we as humans receive so much from these amazing animals, it is equally important that we pay attention to their health, wellbeing, and happiness as well.
If you are new to the equestrian lifestyle here are a couple of tips to keeping them happy:
1) Consistent Exercise:
Horses, just like us need daily exercise to stay healthy and fit. A daily workout helps to reduce your horse’s stress and allows them to release pent-up energy. While it might not look like the typical gym workout, working out with your horse by training can be beneficial for both you and your horse.
2) Keep Vaccinations Current:
Like humans, horses also need vaccinations and it is important that they stay current, or like humans, they can get sick. Having the proper vaccination in a timely manner helps you keep your horse healthy, fit, and happy.
If your horse gets sick, it will take a lot of energy for it to fully recover. Keeping your horse on a vaccinations routine not only will help prevent your horse from getting sick but will also help your horse to recover against the more serious diseases more easily.
To ensure you are providing your horse the best care and keeping regular on its vaccinations, you can ask your vet for a list of vaccines he/she suggests you give to your horse and which ones are most important for your horse to have. If you don’t currently have a vet, click here for a list of ones in our area.
3) Your Horse Needs a Safe and Comfortable Environment:
Here’s one that lies near and dear to our hearts. As real estate agents, we know just how much we as humans want our homes to keep us safe and comfortable. Similarly, your horse not only deserves but needs housing that not only keeps him safe from things like storms and prey but also makes him comfortable. If your horse lives in a barn, provide them a stall and protection. If they live outdoors, they need some way to get out of the sun. Often a run-in shed, or shady trees can give them protection from the elements they need. Additionally, you will need to provide them with a dry walking area, grass, rubber mats, and hoof care.
Not all properties are created equally. When looking at properties, it is important to make sure it is sufficient for your horse and easy for them to maneuver and permitted for horse use. If you need help determining whether or not a property is viable for your equestrian needs reach out to our equestrian advisors here.
4) Good Nutrition:
We know that when we eat junk food, we feel, well like junk. Similarly, your horse requires a diet that can fuel the energy they need to stay fit and healthy. The digestive system of your horse is designed to process large amounts of fibrous foods regularly.
To keep the horse’s digestive health and increase their energy level, you should include grass, hay, and grains in their regular diet along with a lot of fresh CLEAN water. Including traditional mineral blocks into their routine will help your horse maintain an optimal diet. Check out these great places on Whidbey to purchase food for your horse.
5) Your Horse Needs a Dentist Too!
Have you ever been petting your horse when he decides to give you a big lick across your face?! We have too. That’s how we know it is of the utmost importance for your horse to have a dentist too. You should anticipate a checkup about once a year. Like humans, horse teeth grow. However, unlike humans, horse teeth continue to grow and could potentially become damaged by opposing teeth if not properly taken care of. Because their teeth continue to grow it is important for them to be filed regularly to ensure the horse is comfortable when he eats. Could you imagine trying to eat if your teeth hurt you?
Without regular dental check-ups, your horse could develop problems that could lead to more serious problems like colic and choke.
6) Their Hooves:
It is important to take care of your horse’s hooves, by cleaning them and trimming them regularly. Like humans, every horse is different. The growth at which your horses’ hooves grow may be vastly different from that of another’s. However, it is often common for hooves to grow in between 4 to 8 weeks. You can begin trimming them after that.
7) Visit Your Horse Regularly:
The bond between you and your horse should be very strong like the friendship between you and a best friend. You will develop this bond over time by spending adequate time with them. You should expect to visit your horse daily if possible.
But also, like humans, your horse needs equestrian friends too. So get out and make friends with similar interests as both you and your horse.
At the end of the day…
Written by: Kristen Stavros
16 September 2021
There is a general feeling amongst brokers that the Oak Harbor market has softened up just a bit. As Branch Manager and Co-owner of Windermere Whidbey Island I pay close attention to what my brokers are seeing and feeling out there in the market. When I begin to sense a theme I go to the numbers to see if they are telling the same story.
I’ll be really curious to see how these numbers change when we can add September data to them but I’m seeing the teensiest sign that there may be some easing.
For the first time all year, we’ve seen a dip in closed sales in August.
At the same time, new listings continue to rise every month.
Average days on market has plateaued.
Does this mean buyers can start getting homes for less $$$?
The answer is emphatically, NO. As you can see from the graphs below prices continue to climb, inventory is still at a record low, and homes are still moving off the market incredibly fast. This just means that instead of being up against 10 other buyers you now may be up against just 2-3 other qualified buyers. Instead of great homes going for up to 10-20% over list price, the good ones may just end up 5-8% over list. The pressure on buyers is still decidedly strong but the dial has been turned down ever so slightly.
Average Price Per Square Foot.
Months’ Supply of Homes (based on closed sales).
Average Days on Market.
Sellers still have a fantastic advantage in this market but things are changing weekly so we are encouraging sellers to not get too greedy or assured because doing so may mean you overprice the market, lose the opportunity to garner multiple offers out of the gate, and ultimately make less profit on your home.
Working with a smart and sophisticated listing agent has never been more important in the previous 3 years than it is RIGHT NOW. You need someone who is really going to take their time analyzing the market against your specific home before giving you pricing advice. Call us today to be connected with a market pricing expert!
This analysis focuses just on the Oak Harbor market but we have the same analysis going on for all of Whidbey Island! If you are interested in knowing more about any aspect of Whidbey Island real estate let us know and we are happy to share.
50 miles South of the U.S./Canada border and 25 miles North of Seattle lies Whidbey Island, an incomparable destination for nature lovers and bird enthusiasts. On Whidbey, you can get lost for hours and find yourself mesmerized not only by incredible views but by a breathtaking variety of birds.
Whidbey Boasts 148 miles of winding shoreline, 6 state parks, 4 lakes, hundreds of miles of trail, and a ridiculous variety of habitats from bogs to estuaries to the prairie. It is not surprising then that Whidbey accommodates roughly 250 resident and migrant bird species.
Birdwatchers will declare some of the best times to watch for birds on Whidbey are:
Late April through May you can expect to be woken early by the Songbirds singing a pleasant tune.
Late July through September It is hard not to miss fat red-breasted Robins filling the apple trees and spot migrant visitors from the north like wigeons, ducks, coots, waterfowl, and red-tailed hawks.
November through mid-March is a great time of year to watch for Northern Shrike, Bald Eagles, and other raptor-type birds.
Best places for birdwatching:
If you are just trying to take advantage of easily accessible shoreline almost any time of year works. Some of the best places to watch for shorebirds birds on Whidbey Island are Penn Cove, Keystone Landing, Fort Casey State Park, and Dugualla Bay.
If you don’t live on Whidbey and are coming just for birdwatching be sure to schedule more than one day for viewing. Plan time so you can experience multiple locations, each with its unique features. To better understand all the places you can access the shoreline you really need to buy Getting to the Waters Edge! We sell it at our Windermere offices both in Oak Harbor and Coupeville.
Frequently asked questions:
Some people wonder if there is a time of day that birds are most animated. Typically speaking most birds are bustling around sunrise and sunset but that rule does not apply to all birds. For example, the morning is typically the best time for spotting diurnal species, while nocturnal species are generally spotted in the evening, but it really depends on the bird and the time of year.
Whidbey Island is native to species like Eagles, Northern Harriers, wading birds, loons, grebes, sea ducks, including Harlequin Ducks, dabbling ducks, Black Oystercatchers, Common Yellowthroats, Marsh Wrens, and more. It is also is a temporary home for migrant birds who frequent the island seasonally for the island’s ideal breeding habitats. But do not be fooled. Some birds like robins, hawks, cardinals, finches, sparrows, and more stay here all year but they seem to “return” because they become active again during the spring through fall seasons after they have bundled down in their nests and shelters during the winter.
To learn more about the birds that can be spotted on Whidbey and a guide for when you will likely catch a glimpse check out this detailed Whidbey Island Bird List created by the Whidbey Audubon Society.
Here are some of our favorite spots on Whidbey to watch for birds let us know your favorite spots in the comments below.
Have you ever been standing there admiring your gardens when a deer walks in and decides it is time for lunch? So have we.
They are the wild and majestic creatures of Whidbey Island, often found in the peaceful pastures of Ebey’s Landing or beneath the cooling tree shade of the state parks. They are elegant, graceful, mesmerizing… and frankly a pain in the arbor.
Oh deer, oh deer, oh deer.
Don’t get us wrong, we LOVE our Whidbey Island deer and are grateful to live in a place where wildlife feels welcomed. However, if you’ve been working hard cultivating that garden all year long, the last thing you are interested in is a handful of fauna munching on the fruit of your labor. To top it off, deer can carry ticks with Lyme disease which can be extremely harmful to both humans and their dogs.
Sorry Bambi, but no one messes with mans’ best friend.
We’ve done a little research and decided to give you a hand with those pretty, yet pesky visitors.
5 pro-tips to get the grazers out of your garden.
- Cut ‘em Off! – It might seem like the most obvious solution, but fences are always a great first step to keeping out unwanted guests. Although deer are great jumpers, the additional effort required might just be enough of a deterrent. < We’re all a little lazy.
- Don’t Plant Tasty Treats – Deer LOVE plants rich in nutrients, moisture, and basically anything else your doctor said you should eat more of. This includes almost all produce plants as well as leafy ivy and bright, water-filled flora. Instead of these, try planting pungent flowers like lavender with greenery that is thorny, hairy, or prickly. You can also use these less desirable plants as a natural barrier for the tastier ones. If all deer see and smell is lambs’ ear and snapdragons, odds are they won’t investigate much further.
- Let Rover Out More – Chances are your dog is like most others and DOES NOT see grazing deer as welcome guests. Barking dogs are a big deterrent for deer. Who wants to eat with someone yelling at you? Eventually, the deer will likely decide your home isn’t a safe place to eat and won’t return.
- Shine a Light on the Situation – Deer are more skittish than the commitment-phobe you dated in college. Installing motion-sensitive floodlights can often leave a deer stunned and anxious to get away as fast as they can.
- Live a Little! – Although we might find them beautiful and nice to look at, deer aren’t that excited about us. Chances are if a deer sees you out and about in the yard they will simply turn around and find someone else’s garden to plunder. So, get outside more! See this as an opportunity to re-imagine your yard and incorporate more outside living space. Your health and your hydrangeas will thank you.