Prepare for Forest Fires

It has been horrible as a result of forest fires in the American West, Australia, or Canada. But, did you know that in recent years, wildfires have become more prevalent in other locations? For example, even countries like Spain, Portugal, Greece, and Chile have experienced devastation. So, only you can prepare for forest fires!
prepare for forest fires

Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires

Interestingly, I would be surprised if you were not familiar with Smokey Bear and how he became famous way back in 1944 and what his well-known saying was. Remember what it was or why it even came to being? The famous saying arises from World War II when our firefighters who were in the armed forces were called on to fight wildfires. This left many people at home with no protection.

Years ago, Smokey became famous. In my opinion, he was a hero. If you are not familiar with the story of the original Smokey, it tears at your heartstrings as to what happened to him. It also serves to provide hope that something good can come out of something bad.

Causes of Wildfires

The causes of wildfires or forest fires can be multiple. For example, they can be caused by nature or human-caused. Lightening is your number 1 natural source for the start of these fires. In addition, Australian brushfires are usually “preceded by extreme high temperatures, low relative humidity and strong winds, which combine to create ideal conditions for the rapid spread of fire,” according to Wikipedia. These same conditions can also be prevalent in other countries.

The second cause for those tremendous fires that can cause huge costs – even in the billions of dollars – is…by us, meaning humans. Either due to carelessness or purposeful actions, the Natural Park Service clearly states that “Human-caused fires result from campfires left unattended, the burning of debris, equipment use and malfunctions, negligently discarded cigarettes, and intentional acts of arson. However, I have a few more causes that are not mentioned in the article that I feel are important for you to be aware of. Let’s take a look.

More Causes of Forest Fires

  • Fireworks
  • Vehicles (Hauling trailers with safety chain dragging, heat exhaust, no or non-working spark arrester)
  • Prescribed burns (also called Controlled Burns). According to Wikipedia, a controlled or prescribed burn also known as hazard reduction burning, backfire, swailing, or a burn-off is a fire set intentionally for purposes of forest management, farming, prairie restoration, or greenhouse gas abatement. A controlled burn may also refer to the intentional burning of slash and fuels through burn piles. Fire is a natural part of both forest and grassland ecology and controlled fire can be a tool for foresters.
  • Electric Power (Fallen power lines rank among the top causes of wildfires, ranking as the third most common cause of wildfires in California. In some cases, it only takes a branch falling from a tree and striking a power line to create sparks. Nearly 10% of wildfires result from fallen power lines.)So to explain further, nature we cannot control. In contrast, we (you) can become more aware of preventing forest fires and being accountable for our actions.
  • Road Construction – You might not think of this as a possible catalyst for a forest fire, but in the copper mining town of Bagdad, Arizona, this actually happened. It was probably a spark from one of the equipment or vehicles they use.

    Ways to Prepare for Forest Fires

    Create a Defensible Space

    To explain, there are three types of defensible space that you need to prepare for. To begin with, you can use removal to prepare for a forest fire. Check for, and remove, fire hazards in and around your home, such as dried-out branches, leaves, and debris.

    While I could tell you that you want to create a fire break of at least 500 feet from your home, that is not necessarily a good rule of thumb. More is not always better.

    Typically, your better option is to follow the advice of the USDA Forest Service. They explain there are different fire zones for homes surrounded by forests or grasslands.

    The second defensible space is the reduction of plant parts. Get rid of branches or leaves. Prune those overgrown shrubs and bushes.

    Finally, to prepare for forest fires, the third defensible space is a replacement. On the contrary, that doesn’t mean that you cannot have any plants at all. A better option would be to use less flammable plants. An even better substitute would be a well-irrigated flower bed.

    Have an Emergency Escape Plan

    Since your livelihood and the lives of your family are so valuable, an emergency escape plan is critical. The time is now to sit your family down and ensure each member knows, understands, and is prepared to follow that plan if you all need to evacuate quickly. Also important is learning fire safety techniques and practicing regularly.

    Prepare an Emergency Kit

    Admittedly, you might not think of having an emergency kit as a must-have preparation. Basically, I would suggest you have the same items if you were to bug in. Furthermore, always charge your smartphone before any type of emergency, especially when you prepare for wildfires.

    Make Your Home a Fortress

    Your home needs protection against fires. Don’t bypass these effective ways to make your home and property more resistant to wildfire:

    Gutters, roofs, and outdoor spaces are all known to collect leaves and twigs. You want to clean those out frequently. Another way is to clear out window screens and attic vents.
    Use roofing materials with a Class A fire rating (the highest you can get). Class A is more expensive, but I feel it is worth it in the long run. Speaking of the roof, you want to install metal angle flashing at the edge of the roof. Flashing comes in a variety of materials, so I would recommend speaking with your favorite hardware store clerk to get their input.

    In addition, it’s a good idea to install metal angle flashing on your wood decking where it meets the siding of the house.

    Finally, replace single-pane windows with multi-pane, tempered glass windows with screens. To take it one step further, plan on having firefighting foam on hand and install wildfire sprinklers around the house as extra protection.

    Plan for an Evacuation

    So what if the time comes when your government officials advise you that you need to evacuate? Ready suggests that you know what your evacuation route is.

    You may not have the luxury to take your time to evacuate quickly due to a wildfire. Time will be of the essence. You will need to act quickly.

    First, you want to learn your evacuation routes. This doesn’t mean just for you or your immediate family. It also means for your pets or livestock. Prepare and know ahead of time where you will go. This may well save your life and the lives of your loved ones.

    Your local authorities know best and have the most up-to-date information so follow the instructions from them. They will provide the latest recommendations based on the threat to your community and appropriate safety measures.

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