School speed limits are back in full effect and the ocean’s waves are creeping back down to cooler temperatures- fall is almost here. But changing leaves and shorter days don’t signal the end of wildfires.
A disastrous amount of fires plagued Washington state this summer, some still consuming their land. President Obama declared a state of emergency at the fire sites, with reinforcements from New Zealand and Australia traveling to five western United States to help, including Washington and California.
The Golden State is unfortunately not a new target of wildfires, and the state’s severe drought is only elongating their two annual fire seasons. There were 1,000 more wildfires than average in California during 2014, with this scary trend continuing through 2015.
Drier land and water shortages play their respective roles in wildfires, but the true culprits are usually people. On average, humans start 90 percent of wildfires, typically from campfires or burning backyard debris, according to the National Park Service.
Fires are always a real and possible threat to your home, so are you prepared? See if you meet the fire prevention safety tips below.
Everyone wants the most envy-worthy house on block, so keep your lawn free from dead plants, grass, and weeds. Don’t skip out on the dreaded roof and rain gutter cleaning, any dry leaves living in there could be just enough energy for the fire to feed off your home. And while you’re up there, check to see if any tree branches are within 10 feet of the roof or chimney. Trim away if they’re too close.
Chores with Tools
Outdoor power equipment is often overlooked as a fire starter (if not altogether forgotten to avoid yard work). Sparks from lawn mowers can and do start wildfires, so check your equipment regularly. Never let the grass grow taller than four inches, get it done before 10 a.m. and skip it entirely on windy or dry days.
Nights on the Deck
Remove any vegetation or other items that could easily catch fire from around or under the deck. Don’t place any such items near patio furniture, children’s swing sets or any other flammable materials. But if removing all your greenery seems bland, opt for fire-resistant plants. These plants keep your wallet happy and may help lower your water bill while increasing your property value.
BBQ’s and S’mores
Fire is friends with charcoal and wood burning stoves alike. Don’t stop enjoying your dinners cooked on the deck, but make sure to dispose of everything correctly. Drown the ash or charcoal in water, stir it up, and do it again until it’s cold to the touch.
Stay informed of wildfires across the nation with the USDA Forest Service’s interactive fire map.