Wildfire Safety – It Starts with Each One of Us

Tossing a cigarette butt out of the window, fireworks and unsupervised camp fires are the most common causes of wildfires. But did you know that wildfires are also started by discharging firearms, using chainsaws and trailer safety chains being dragged across asphalt?

Although there are a variety of reasons a wildfire starts, the conditions that allow them to become out of control are the same. Months without rain can cause brush-and even green trees-to become dry enough to ignite with a small spark, strong winds can carry a spark at the speed of 100 feet per second and of course there is human interaction to consider.

Over five million acres were burned by wildfires in 2016, which forces us to ask the question, what can Associations do to keep their community safe from wildfires?

As the saying goes, the best defense is a good offense! Creating what is called a defensible space around your community and around your personal residence will deter wildfires from coming too close for comfort. Here are several simple steps to help get you started:

  • Keep the roofs of all common areas and individual homes free from leaves, pine needles and any other debris, and remove all dead plants from your community.
  • Use fire-safe landscaping techniques. Choose high-moisture, drought resistant plants that grow low to the ground. Maple trees, cherry trees, poplar trees, aloe, sage and yellow ice plants are good examples of plants that help deter fire. Hardscape features such as stone walls also help to create a fire barrier.
  • Cover all exterior vents with 1/8- inch to 1/4-inch metal mesh. This will help keep embers from getting into your home.
  • Have a fire extinguisher available and make sure that it’s in good working order.
  • Knowledge is power- check with your local forest service for more tips for your city or state on how to help prevent wildfires in your area. They will also have information on the proper procedure for your community should an evacuation become necessary.
  • Communicate! Make sure that the residents of your community are aware of any wildfires that might be in your vicinity and make sure they have the information they need to stay safe.

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