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How can your community prepare for wildfire season?

When the weather turns dry and the great outdoors is under the threat of wildfires, you and your community can take steps to prepare for and prevent them.

As the weather gets hotter, the land gets dryer; this is especially true out in the great outdoors, where there’s a greater risk of wildfires happening. While sometimes caused by nature—through lightning, spontaneous combustion, or other means—most wildfires happen due to human influence or interference. We have a greater responsibility toward protecting the land, especially from ourselves. Fortunately, humans are very good at getting organized and taking action. How can your community prepare for wildfire season? Here’s some advice to keep your community and its natural resources safe.

Stay Informed

How high is the potential for a wildfire in or near your area? Wildfires happen everywhere. Some areas in the US experience wildfires more than others, but the right combination of dry weather, drought, and vegetation can make wildfires develop anywhere. Look into the possibility of wildfires near your home, and sign up for apps and alerts that provide warnings and useful information about preventing and escaping wildfires threatening your home. Your local government should also have plans and programs in place to protect and educate you and your fellow citizens. Contact them for more information, and share it with friends and family members.

Defensible Space

If you live close to a wildfire-prone area, create a partition between your domicile and the fire zone. Clear away dead and dry vegetation around your home. Create about 30 feet of space completely free of “fuel” (plants and other flammable materials) that allows a fire to make the jump from the brush to your living space. You’re also providing a zone where wildland firefighters can safely conduct operations. Work with neighbors to ensure this space is kept clear.

Friends and Neighbors

If you don’t already know your neighbors, now is a good opportunity to introduce yourself and talk with them about protecting the neighborhood from wildfires. Discuss plans for protection and evacuation, and bring in community leaders as well as police and firefighting personnel who can provide more details and tips on working together to stay safe. Share emergency contact numbers with one another, and designate safe zones and meeting areas where everyone, especially children, can go and be accounted for. Conduct periodic fire drills, and consider establishing a volunteer firefighting force if one doesn’t already exist. Finally, set up communication chains by phone, texting, social media, and other means of sharing information.

Other Steps

Still wondering how your community can prepare for wildfire season? There are many waysto fight fires that haven’t struck yet. Use fire-resistant materials in home construction! Also, mind your campfires, matches, and smoking materials, ensuring they’re completely quenched after you’re done using them. Pick up yard waste that can combust if a fire approaches your property.

Watch out for vehicles that run hot and can start fires under the chassis. Also, don’t waste water during daily activities to ensure there’s plenty available and that water pressure doesn’t falter. Back up your local wildland firefighting crew! That can mean helping with funding so they have the latest equipment. You could even keep up their spirits by occasionally sending them a thank you or donation of coffee and snacks. Fight the burn by supporting your crew!

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