The only difference between adventure and disaster is preparedness.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wildfire Season

It's hard to think about the threat of wildfires when the rain is pouring down, but believe it or not, wildfire season is quickly approaching.  Here are some wildfire tips from "The Guide to Emergency Management and Homeland Security."

Wildfires can be classified by the fuel they burn:

Crown fires burn through treetops and forest canopy.
Ladder fires burn between the ground and canopies, involving vines, small trees and ferns, etc.
Surface fires burn leaves, grasses, fallen limbs and other material along a forest floor.
Ground fires burn subterranean roots and other buried matter.  A ground fire smolders rather than burns, and sometimes can go on for months.

Note:  a single wildfire can have more than one of these types of fires burning at the same time. 

What We Can Do
Only start an open fire, such as a campfire or leaf fire, at times and places where it is legal.  Check with local authorities if you are not sure.  Never burn a fire where it could spread to trees or other vegetation.  Never leave a fire unattended.

If you have a home in a wooded area, particularly one prone to wildfires, make sure to follow local building codes.  Use fire resistant materials such as non-wood roofing, brick and metal siding.  Create a safe-zone around the home, free of highly combustible vegetation.  Stone walls and swimming pools can help.  Keep the gutters free of dead vegetation and trees clear of dead wood and moss.

When a Wildfire is Approaching
Wildfire are very dangerous to both property and people in their path.  A hot, dry wind can propel a fire rapidly through a forest, with flames even jumping across roadways.  If you live near where a wildfire is burning, keep abreast of news reports.  Evacuate when advised to by authorities.

You can help protect your home by removing any combustible items around the house.  Take down flammable drapes and curtains.  Close blinds and other non-combustible window coverings.  Shut all doors and windows to prevent drafts.  Wet down your home and, if possible, put a sprinkler on the roof and leave it running.  Seal attic and other vents with plywood or other material.  Valuables that won't be damage by water might be put in a pool or pond until the danger has passed.

If you are caught outside in a wildfire, try to find a body of water or open or rocky area to crouch or lie in.  Wet down your clothes or cover them with soil.  Breathe air close to the ground with a wet cloth over your face.

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