04 May May is Wildfire Awareness Month
May is National Wildfire Awareness month, which dedicates the entire month to prevention and preparedness. While wildfires may not be prevalent in every state, the responsibility to be aware and alert belongs to all of us. The causes of wildfires can occur in every state, and as mobile as our lifestyles have become, we each need to be prepared.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), more than 80% of wildfires are caused by human-related activity, leaving less than 20% that occur on their own in nature. Destruction caused by wildfires in the United States has significantly increased in the last two decades. On average, there are 70,000 wildfires that burn more than seven million acres each year. Preventable wildfires threaten lives, property and precious natural resources.
As the hotter, drier weather of summer approaches, the risk of wildfire increases. There are some steps that can be taken to aid in the prevention of wildfires from starting and spreading. From fire resisting building materials, to following the safety protocols for handling fire when camping, heating your home or storing fuel, we can all take part in reducing wildfires.
Wildfire season is year-round in many parts of the country now. What can you do to help support our firefighters and protect your family from wildland fires? The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends these tips to help prevent fires from starting in your home or community:
- Create and maintain five feet of non-combustible space around homes and commercial buildings.
- Reduce the amount of flammable materials and brush that can burn around your home by removing pine needles, dry leaves or other highly flammable materials.
- Protect your roof: trim branches that overhang your home and remove any leaves, needles, and sticks from your roof and gutters.
- Move wood piles and small propane tanks away from your (and your neighbor’s) home; 30 feet or more is best.
- To keep sparks and flames from getting underneath, screen under your porch and other open areas with wire mesh no larger than 1/8 inch.
- Know two ways out of your neighborhood.
Be prepared in case you need to evacuate:
- Keep important documents in a fireproof safe, on a USB drive, or store password protected documents online.
- Check your home insurance to make sure your policy protects your current home value and includes wildfires.
- Give yourself time and evacuate early if possible. If you can’t leave, designate a room that can be closed off from outside air in case air conditions become hazardous.
- Visit Ready.gov for details on how to make a household emergency plan and go-kit.
- When making plans, don’t forget the needs of pets.
- Make sure that you know more than one way out of your neighborhood.
- Sign up to receive emergency alerts and notices for your community.
Wildfires can develop and spread quickly, leaving little time to get somewhere safe. Know what to do to keep yourself, your family, and your pets safe, and take steps now to protect your future. Throughout the month of May, TERPconsulting will be sharing vital information about the preparedness and prevention of wildfires, and the ways in which we can assist with mitigation efforts.