2598-03_Waterax_Wildfire_Awareness_news

Ready, Set, Go! It’s Wildfire Awareness Month

Spring has sprung and that means it’s time for you to prepare for summer. Along with warm, sunny days comes the increased risk of drought, dangerous conditions in forests, and inevitably, wildfires. We’ve put together some tips to help our communities, families and fire agencies prepare for the upcoming season.

May 5th was Wildfire Community Preparedness Day. The National Fire Prevention Association has put together a fantastic site with ideas on how communities can get involved to increase awareness and fire safety.

Longer term, it is important for fire agencies and residents to consider how to make their communities fire-adapted.

Susan Prichard, a research scientist at the University of Washington, talks about what it means to be fire-adapted: “Making our homes less penetrable to burning embers, reducing fuels and thinning vegetation around our properties, and choosing better places to live and build. We can also create safe access for firefighters, plan emergency evacuation routes, and manage dry forests to be more resilient. After decades of fire exclusion, dense and dry forests with heavy accumulations of fuel and understory vegetation often need to be treated with a combination of thinning and prescribed burning. Restoring landscape patterns will take time and careful management to mitigate how future wildfires burn across landscapes.”

In Idaho, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is asking the public to Plan, Prepare and Prevent. Plan on becoming Firewise by identifying the hazards around your home. Prepare by creating survivable space to protect your home; and Prevent wildfires this summer by using caution with anything that can cause a spark.

The Forest Stewards Guild  reports that in the Southwest US, 44% of forest fires are caused by abandoned campfires. Power lines are also often a leading cause of fires, including the Las Conchas Fire, which caused over $1 billion in damages. Public education, controlled burns and ecosystem restoration are important to help create fire-adapted communities. Residents living in fire prone areas can watch this video for more tips on how to prepare.

Also this month is National Home Fire Sprinkler Day, May 19. NFPA in the US and Canada want to increase awareness and encourage home sprinkler usage. According to NFPA, home fire sprinklers are a crucial, life-saving technology, since sprinklers can reduce the risk of dying from home fires by 80 percent and can reduce the risk of property loss by 70 percent.

Mark your calendars and consider how you can help promote these fire safety initiatives. As Smokey Bear says, “Only you can prevent wildfires.”

220px-Smokey_Bear_Only_You_campaign_hat