Forest Fire Prevention Tips
by Lauren Mason
September 11, 2020
Did you know that most forest fires are caused by people? With temperatures rising due to climate change, the smallest spark can create disaster. When outdoors, it’s everyone’s responsibility to use fires with caution and heed the following recommendations especially during forest fire season:
How to Prevent a Forest Fire:
- Contact 911, your local fire department, or the park service if you notice an unattended or out-of-control fire.
- Obey local laws regarding open fires, including campfires, stoves, and disposing of yard waste. Before starting a fire, make sure you check your area’s wildfire alert system to ensure conditions are safe for an open flame. Avoid fires during windy, fire-season prone times.
- Improperly doused or rogue fires are one of the leading causes of wildfires. Never leave a fire unattended. Completely extinguish the fire before sleeping or leaving the campsite. To extinguish a fire, douse it with water, pour sand over it, and stir the ashes until cold. If anything is still smoking or there are embers burning, it’s not out completely!
- Do not make excessively large fires as these can quickly get out of control (3 ft. wide is the max).
- Make sure that fueling lanterns, stoves, and heaters are cool before refueling. Take care not to spill flammable liquids and store fuel away from these devices, keeping all flammable objects away from fire.
- Do not discard cigarettes, matches, and smoking materials from moving vehicles, or anywhere on park grounds. Completely extinguish cigarettes before disposing of them.
- Keep a shovel, water, and fire retardant nearby to keep fires in check.
People in fire-prone areas should plan ahead and prepare to evacuate with little notice. Here’s what to do if you're caught in the middle of one:
- If advised to evacuate, do so immediately. Do not stay in your home. Your life is more important than physical things.
- Know your evacuation route ahead of time and prepare an evacuation checklist and emergency supplies.
- Wear protective clothing and footwear to reduce harm from flying sparks and ashes.
If Caught in a Wildfire:
- Don't try to outrun the blaze. Instead, look for a body of water such as a pond or river to crouch in.
- If there is no water nearby, find a depressed, cleared area with little vegetation, lie low to the ground, and cover your body with wet clothing, a blanket, or soil. Stay low and covered until the fire passes.
- Protect your lungs by breathing air closest to the ground, through a mask or moist cloth, if possible, to reduce smoke inhalation.
Source: National Geographic