As Californians, we’ve become much too accustomed to seeing helicopters on the news spraying thousands of gallons of water over landscapes ablaze with fire. This year alone, NBC News has reported that there have already been upwards of 4,600 fires in California, and that statistic has continued to grow since August. CAL FIRE has also shared that 95 percent of wildfires are caused by humans.
Needless to say, every family should be familiar with fire prevention efforts and emergency tips. Since Fire Prevention Week begins Sunday, October 8, now is a good time to review prevention tips to help you and your family stay safe and prevent potential disasters.
Prevention begins with home maintenance and common-sense safety during recreation. As a homeowner, you must maintain your “defensible space,” which covers the 100-foot area surrounding your home. Be sure to keep dead plants, dry or dead grass, weeds, dried leaves, and pine needles cleared from this space. One hot ember can put your home at serious risk. Maintain the distance between tree branches, and make sure they’re at least six inches from the ground, to prevent what fire experts call the “fire ladder.” Avoid mowing the lawn during low humidity and strong winds as one spark from the lawnmower may cause you more trouble than you bargained for. If you’re barbecuing, camping, or using new outdoor equipment, make sure you take proper precautions to reduce the risk of fire.
Something else to think about which dates back to grade school is an evacuation plan. We all remember the loud alarm going off and faculty members escorting us outside to safety during those long school fire drills. They may have felt tedious at times, however, when your family has an evacuation plan in place, things will go smoother and it could save a life. Always keep an emergency kit in your vehicle, create an evacuation plan checklist that fits your family’s needs, and if you have animals, make sure they have a safe place to go as well.
Maintaining your vehicle, especially the brakes, cooling system, and tires is also key. Car accidents can cause a vehicle to quickly go up in flames. If you don’t have one already, add a fire extinguisher to your car safety kit. Lastly, try to avoid parking in dry brush areas as brush can be easily ignited by hot parts on your car.
Good planning and prevention are key to avoiding wildfires. Check out our website at www.wcmagazines.com under Events to check for an open house scheduled at your local fire station.