Health

Spread It Like Wildfire: Understanding, Staying Protected From, and Preventing Wildfires

No matter where you live in the US, you may be realizing that the Summer heat seems hotter and the sun seems to scorch these days. Climate change has ramped up the number of wildfires. That, coupled with forests not being maintained properly, has created red zones all over everywhere.

How They Start

How do these fires ignite in the first place? Wildfires often begin and spread by natural causes or are man-made, often times by negligence. Humans do things like leave campfires unattended, flicking cigarettes into the dry brush, even a spark from a chain hanging on the undercarriage of a truck can ignite a fire. Sometimes, the fires are intentional acts of arson. Although most of the time the fires are ignited by humans, there are also fires that are caused by lightning strikes and downed power lines. Those occur at far less of a frequency than human-ignited fires, though.

Staying Safe

If there is a wildfire near your home, first and foremost do not panic. Gather all of your family members together, including pets. Call 911 to be sure they are aware of the fire if you are not positive that they are. Fill all of your sinks and tubs with cold water. If you have a ladder, prop it against the house for access to the roof. Set up outdoor hoses and fill as many buckets as you possibly can with water. If you have flammable drapes either take them down or open them wide. Remove any lawn furniture or grills that are combustible from the perimeter of your home. Pull your car into your garage and be sure that the keys are in the ignition. Be ready to evacuate immediately if and when you are told to do so.

Prevention

Practicing campfire safety is one of the most important prevention tips. Be sure to pick a spot that is not in an area that is close to dried brush. If a good wind picks up, you do not want an ember landing in the brush. Keep a bucket of water on hand in case you need to douse any loose embers. Do not just build your fire on the ground, dig a pit and find rocks to surround the pit. When you put the fire out, be sure that the inner core of your fire is out. Just dousing the top will not effectively put out the fire. The second most important tip is to not burn debris in your yard. There are ways to safely burn in your backyard but it’s best just not to do it to reduce any risk of igniting an unintentional fire. If you choose to burn, use a burn barrel. Stay with your fire the entire time it is burning. Do not leave until it is completely out. Be sure you do not situate the barrel beneath any power lines. It is also imperative to be sure that your local regulations permit backyard burning.

Wildfires could be drastically reduced if humans were much more careful. Knowledge is key in the before, during and after a wildfire to keep your family safe.

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