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443 Posts authored by: faithberry Employee

Did you know that many of California’s worst wildfires have historically occurred in the fall? Recent examples from last year include the Camp Fire which caused 86 fatalities and destroyed 18,804 structures and the Woolsey Fire which destroyed 1,643 structures and caused 3 fatalities. In fact, CAL Fire’s statistics show that 15 of the top 20 deadliest fires have occurred during September, October, and November.

Have you wondered why these destructive wildfires occur in the fall? The weather conditions that occur this time of year in California contribute to this threat. The Weather Channel has created a great video that explains how the winds and low humidity can increase California communities’ risk of loss due to wildfire.NASA Satellite image of the Camp Fire 2018

Some of the factors which contribute to the increased threat include:

  1. Santa Ana winds and other strong offshore winds that are caused by high-pressure systems forcing fast-moving wind to blow from hot desert regions west over the mountains toward the ocean. These high winds can topple power lines and cause rapid spotting of a wildfire.
  2. Very low relative humidity (moisture in the air) due to hot dry conditions.
  3. Low moisture levels in the vegetation which can cause the vegetation to catch fire more quickly.

Homeowners can reduce their risk of loss to wildfire this time of year by making simple and low-cost improvements to their home and landscape. Some of these activities are typical fall home maintenance projects, such as:

  1. Removing dead branches from trees and shrubbery (fall is a great time of year to prune bushes and trees, reducing the ability for fire to move up from shrubs into trees);
  2. Removing leaves from gutters and roofs;
  3. Removing weeds (that are drying out) from around the home especially within the first 5 feet of the home; and
  4. Making sure vents are screened and cleared of debris

For more information about steps that you can take to reduce your risk of loss to wildfire, check out NFPA’s Firewise USA website for free resources to help you decide on some fall home wildfire safety improvement projects.

With 1/3 of all US homes located in areas considered wildland urban interface (WUI) and more than 35,000 homes lost in the US to wildfire over the past 10-years, it is more important than ever that home design and construction ensure that they are safer from wildfire.  While some people have been concerned that building stronger using wildfire resistant materials might cost more, a new study released by Headwaters Economics, Building a Wildfire-Resistant Home: Codes and Costs, dispels this myth.  

The study shows that building homes using wildfire resistant materials and design features really does not cost much more.  In some cases, new home construction following these guidelines according to the study can even cost less to build.

It further stresses the importance of using national building codes and standards to design and construct new homes.  These are based on decades of good research about what types of roofs, eaves, windows, exterior walls and more will provide better protection to the home when a wildfire event occurs.  The study references NFPA Standard 1144 for Reducing Structure Ignition Hazards from Wildfire as one local communities can utilize to insure new homes and communities are safer from wildfire.

This study was completed in partnership with the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) and was prepared at the request of Park County, Montana, as part of the Community Planning Assistance for Wildfire (CPAW) program.  To learn more from the study, the full report, an executive summary, and a detailed appendix (Excel) are available.

Photo Credit: IBHS

Young, male child with backpack

Wildfires can not only force residents to evacuate their homes, but also depending upon the time of day that they occur, force students to be evacuated from schools.   This is something parents and caregivers can prepare for, as they help children get ready to go back to school, during September, National Preparedness Month.  

 Wildfires can displace many children attending school at once, which shows the necessity of creating a plan.  For example during Northern California’s Camp Fire, 3,300 students were  evacuated from 11 schools in school buses and faculty cars.  In one instance students were sent home and the administration was concerned that the homes they were sent to may not have been safe.

In response to their own recent wildfire evacuation of schools, San Diego County, a wildfire prone community has recently adopted a plan that recognizes this risk and has outlined a way to make sure children are safer during a wildfire event when they are at school and need to be evacuated.   The county wide school evacuation plan was developed by the San Diego County office of Emergency Service (OES) based upon the county wide Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) in collaboration with the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE), The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, CAL Fire, California State Parks, and others.    

According to an article about the plan, There are some questions parents can ask school officials before an emergency occurs, that would make it easier for everyone if an evacuation order is given;

  1. How will transportation be secured if my children need to leave?
  2. What is the designated relocation site?
  3. What happens/how will I be notified if students have to be taken to an alternative site?
  4. How will I be contacted and how can I contact school officials during an emergency?
  5. Have the school and school grounds been maintained looking at the Home Ignition Zone (HIZ) so that if students are unable to leave it will be safer?

As you fill their backpacks with school supplies this year, you can also help prepare children to be safer in the event that a wildfire occurs when they are away from you at school.   Learn more about how you and your family can be prepared for wildfire at NFPA’s Firewise USA site.

Photo: shared by Jason King 

Recent hurricanes and other wildfire disasters serve as a reminder that being able to evacuate quickly can mean the difference in whether or not you are able to survive.  When creating evacuation routes, it is important to use sound data to make sure traffic does not get congested at choke points, putting people at risk.  

The United States Fire Administration (USFA) recently posted research from StreetLight Data that can help emergency managers and government agencies with evacuation planning.  They looked at 30,000 communities across the United States with populations 40,000 or less, evaluating their evacuation routes.

According to the infogram, “Researchers developed an index based on the total number of routes out of town, the percentage of people who take certain routes on a typical day, and the total population. The data from this study can help towns consider the reality of evacuation plans in terms of road maintenance and availability when combined with human behavior.”

According to an Emergency Management article about this data, the states with the most evacuation-challenged communities some of which are also located in wildfire prone areas were:

  • Florida (20 communities)
  • California (14 communities)
  • Arizona (8 communities)
  • Texas (6 communities)

StreetLight Data has also made a list of the top 100 communities in the United States with limited evacuation routes available.

Before you need to evacuate make sure that your community has a good plan in place based upon reliable data.  For more information about preparing to evacuate, check out NFPA’s free resources available on the TakeAction  and Public Education pages.

Photo credit: NFPA

Sign up for Fire Break Newsletter to stay up to date with the latest news and information on key wildfire issues.

Looking for ways to engage people in wildfire risk discussions and projects? Learn about five unique solutions developed by communities around the country to help get public participation in wildfire risk reduction activities.   

1. TOWN HALL MEETING: Sun City, Texas, an active Firewise USA site, hosts an annual “Town Hall Meeting” to help residents learn what their risks are, ask professionals questions about wildfire preparedness as well as plan next steps.  The meetings encourage participation by many residents to make improvements within their Home Ignition Zones, both to their homes and the landscape surrounding the homes.

Fourmile Watershed youth project

2. MULTIPLE AGENCY CHANNELS: In the Fourmile Watershed community in Colorado, a partnership with the Colorado State Forest Service, Aloterra Restoration Services and One Tree Planted helped get many students involved in a wildfire restoration project. (Some of the participating students and families pictured above).

3. ELECTRONIC ROAD SIGN MESSAGES AND INSERTS IN WATER BILLS:  In Utah, residents of Stockton and South Rim were informed about how they could participate in wildfire preparedness activities through social media, electronic road signs and flyers sent out in their water bills.  According to the UFRA Straight Tip newsletter attached below,  250 people attended and logged 172 hours to complete defensible space projects for Wildfire Community Preparedness Day.

Dublin Fire Department wildfire safety workshop4. WORKSHOPS: In Virginia, a collaborative effort by the Virginia Department of Forestry, Pulaski County Emergency Management, Virginia Tech Fire Ecology Department, New River Valley/ Highlands RC&D, and the Dublin Fire Department, enabled information to be shared with 10 different communities at area workshops (pictured, left). The workshops resulted in fuels reduction projects being accomplished around neighborhood homes.

5. BUSINESS PANEL DISCUSSION: In Santa Fe, New Mexico, the Wildfire Community Preparedness Day project included a Business Panel Discussion at the Santa Fe Business Incubator. They had a small but diverse audience of first responders, arborists, economic development and nonprofit analysts discussing the potential for a wildfire to cause devastating financial impact, and how business owners could be a part of the solution.  

Read more details below about these innovative and effective approaches that you can consider for reaching local audiences to engage in wildfire safety projects.

As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first step on the moon, let’s look at some technological advancements made by NASA that benefit wildland fire suppression and prevention efforts.

NASA’s Fire Information for Resource Management (FIRMS) Map shows real time wildfire activity being mapped by satellites across the globe.  The map even offers a free tutorial to help you access the information you need.

Another contribution to wildfire research from NASA is the Global Fire Weather Database (GFWED).   This model predicts the formation and spread of fires, and can be used  to alert people to weather conditions that can contribute to large wildfires. 

NASA’s also has FIREX-AQ, a study program that provides observations of wildfire smoke and looks at its impact on weather and agriculture.  According to the NASA web-page, “To understand the impact of smoke on the local and regional level, scientists must have accurate estimates of what’s burning, the quantity of emissions produced, the composition of those emissions and how those chemical compounds evolve in the atmosphere as they react with sunlight and other atmospheric constituents, including pollution sources. Scientific knowledge in each of these areas will need to advance in order to provide a detailed understanding of how smoke impacts air quality and climate, and to improve the efficacy of satellites in capturing data relevant to these goals.”

Who benefits from FIREX-AQ? 

  1. Residents living downwind from wildfire.  
  2. Public health managers and health care administers who respond to health-related smoke impacts.   
  3. Land Managers who are making decisions about using prescribed fire to reduce fuel loads.


Our
 forays into space can help research scientists better understand wildfires, including weather that can contribute to wildfire intensity and the effects of air quality in the aftermath of a wildfire.

Photo Credit: NASA public domain photo, pulled 6 August 2019

When we think about wildfires and their aftermath, sometimes the discussions don’t look at what it really takes to rebuild lives and neighborhoods.  When residents tell me that they are not going to prepare because that is what insurance is for, I don’t think they realize that their lack of preparation will not only cost them the loss of their home, but other things Picture of waterfall in NFPA lobby  to illustrate the "cascading effect"as well in the, “cascading effects” of wildfire”.  

This phrase really resonated with me when I attended a recent forum in Washington D.C., where members of the insurance industry, IBHS, FEMA, NEMA and others presented about creating disaster survivability and how we can work together to look at different ways of reducing the risk of wildfire loss.  At a presentations by  Chris Rodriguez, Director of the District of Columbia Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, he mentioned how difficult it is to look at what the real costs of disasters, including wildfire disasters, really are.  He called this the “Cascading Effects” of the event in the lives of survivors and the communities at large.

So, what do these cascading effects mean in wildfire? I can think of four immediately:

  1. Extended separation time for family members and the anxiety this might especially cause children.
  2. The irreparable loss of antiques and other sentimental items, like yearbooks, family pictures, family documents, and even pets.
  3. Additional costs to the homeowner for hazmat removal – hazardous materials are created when the home and its contents burn – that may not be covered in their insurance policy.
  4. The time spent away from home, jobs, and school.

For neighborhoods, this cascade can also include rebuilding critical infrastructure, like water supplies, power poles, and cell towers.    

So, how do we address this cascade of effects in wildfire?  We should recognize that residents, agency partners, businesses, engineers, government entities, and others all have a role to play.  When these groups come together to address both complex and simple mitigation strategies necessary to insure neighborhood and home survival, NFPA’s Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem can provide valuable framework for collective action and addressing gaps.  

The resident can directly influence this as well.  Learn more about how you can be a part of creating communities that are more resilient and recover quicker and better from the next wildfire.  

Let this be our goal as we all work together to address the cascading efforts of wildfire and help to protect lives and property.

On Tuesday July 23, 2019 FEMA is hosting an informational forum on its (BRIC) Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities Grant Program, to be funded through the Disaster Relief Fund as a 6% set aside from estimated disaster grant expenditures. The forum will be held at the US Chamber of Commerce Building in Washington D.C. The forum will include “FEMA Leadership, state and local emergency managers and disaster officials, and leading stakeholders from the insurance and infrastructure industries for a discussion on:                                                                    

  • Identifying and Qualifying for FEMA’s Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) Grant Program.
  • Building an Understanding of FEMA’s Mitigation Priorities.
  • Exploring Use Cases for Achieving Residential Resilience, Including Wind Retrofitting, Wildfire Resilience and More.
  • Reaching Public Infrastructure Resilience, Including Power and Water Lifelines and Beyond.
  • And More!”

There is a cost to register if you are with a private organization of $150, a non-profit $50 but government employees can register for free. If you are interested, register today. FEMA is also offering an online opportunity for you to be a part of the discussion. FEMA will also be hosting a program specifically for wildfire-related issues in Sacramento, California. Sign up to get updates on this upcoming forum.

A picture of "old Ironsides" the USS Constitution in the Boston Harbor on the 4th of July.

 

The Fourth of July is a wonderful time to get together with family and friends and enjoy plenty of good food and fun together.  It is important to take away a pocket full of great memories and keep in mind a few safety tips to insure that those good times don’t end tragically.

NFPA® has some great free downloadable safety tips to help you enjoy your Fourth of July safely.   These tips cover topics such as grilling, campfires, Motor homes and RV’s, and barbeques and so much more.   Check out these great resources and read them with your loved ones, they provide a great way to start a conversation about how to be safe while you have fun.  Local Fire departments can download them and post them in public locations or provide them to residents in their communities.  

Fireworks should always be enjoyed at a public demonstration, and never be lit off at home.  The latest Consumer Product Safety Commission Report shares staggering statistics about deaths, injuries and property losses incurred by the personal use of fireworks.  One teen who sparked a wildfire in Oregon with fireworks has been ordered by a judge to pay 36 million dollars!  In many states the use of fireworks is illegal and you could face penalties like fines or imprisonment for using them.

Another great resource to help insure that you are recreating safely is by following safety tips provided from the, “One Less Spark, One Less Wildfire” campaign by the US Forest Service.  Some tips include:

FOR VEHICLES (Always inspect them before driving)

  1. Make sure that chains including tow chains are not dragging and that there are no other dragging parts including mufflers etc.
  2. Check tire pressure and make sure tires are properly inflated.
  3. Properly maintain brakes
  4. Never park a vehicle that has been running on grass or other flammable vegetation.
  5. Check for vehicle recalls that may pose a fire risk

RECREATIONAL TIPS

  1. Never leave campfires unattended, drown them out completely when done
  2. Make sure your off road motorcycle or other vehicle is equipped with a spark arrestor
  3. Shooting can cause a wildfire, only shoot in designated target areas, do not use exploding targets

We here at the NFPA hope that you all have a safe and happy holiday with your family!

Photo credit: Faith Berry

faithberry

What is prescribed fire?

Posted by faithberry Employee Jun 26, 2019

Did you know that fire in natural areas at the right time and place fire can be good for certain ecosystems?  Many ecosystems across the United States are adapted to fire. Fires occurring at the right time, during the right conditions and at the right place can be restorative to some areas. Some plants need fire to regenerate and flourish, like California chestnut that thrives via fire-induced sprouting, and Jack Pine whose serotinous cones only open during a wildfire, and coffee berry in California whose seeds only sprout after a wildfire.

Many land management agencies are increasingly using prescribed fire not only to help create healthier ecosystems, but also to help create conditions around neighborhoods where a wildfire would burn with less severity and make managing wildfires in the future easier.

I had the opportunity to follow along with a Massachusetts (DCR) Department of Conservation and Recreation crew on a prescribed fire project in Freetown, Massachusetts.  The purpose of the fire was twofold, to control one tree species (white pine), and to help protect the abutting community by reducing the vegetative fuel load. 

The event was well planned and fire suppression resources were strategically staged throughout the burned “unit” (a small area of wildland).  They had also worked closely with a biologist before the burn to study how different species of birds, mammals, and insects might be impacted by a low-intensity fire.  They ensured weather conditions would be right on the day, so that it was not too hot, too windy, too dry and that there was no thermal inversion layer that would cause the local residents to be negatively impacted by smoke.

Once the fire was lighted with drip torches, the fire was carefully monitored and managed so that it stayed within the designated burn zone.  Afterward, I was able to see an area that had been previously burned and see all of the small green plants and other new growth that would provide food and shelter for a variety of species including small oak trees, huckleberry and blueberry bushes that provide food for many animals.

Prescribed fire should only be used as a forest management tool by local, state and federal agencies, tribes, and non-governmental land managing agencies that are well trained, experienced and knowledgeable about how to manage them to create healthier forests and more resilient landscapes. Creating more resilient landscapes is one part of the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy.  Zachary Prusak, board member with the Association for Fire Ecology shared, "The benefits of applying controlled burns (or prescribed fire) to the landscape are numerous, and include maintaining fire-dependent habitats that often include rare species found nowhere else, increasing the availability of nutrients in soil, and reducing the natural plant-based fuels in environments that surround where people live, so that when a fire occurs, the fire intensity is lower, and so easier to manage or control." 

The other two components of this strategy include; creating fire-adapted communities and improving wildfire response.  Learn more about how your efforts can contribute to creating healthier and more resilient communities in wildfire-prone regions today.

Photo credits: Faith Berry, NFPA

stork with an orange bill standing in its habitat at the Franklin Zoo

In light of recent large wildfires occurring across the United States, have you ever wondered what would happen if places like large cities, stadiums, or Zoos were threatened by wildfire?  Just like homes and neighborhoods steps can be taken to reduce the risk of loss of these places in wildfire prone areas.

National Geographic recently shared an article, How Zoos Protect and Evacuate Animals During a Wildfire,  about steps a couple of Southern California zoos have taken to protect their current animal residents to help make them safer from wildfire.  Many of these sites abut up to areas that have been impacted by wildfires in the past. Some of the animal residents are listed as endangered or threatened species, so their death or injury would impact the global gene pool of these species, therefore steps taken to protect them are very important.  

According to the article the Association of Zoos and Aquariums requires its accredited members to have plans in place for events such as wildfires, earthquakes and floods.   Plan details implemented by a couple of the zoos shared in the article include;

  1.  Having pre-planned emergency drills where staff members practice crating animals and having supplies including food and medicines ready.   Some animals are moved well in advance of the fire because they are listed as endangered or threatened.
  2. Some animals (like birds) are pre-planned to be moved to safe areas like inside rooms to reduce damage smoke could cause and some bigger animals are put in areas where vegetation has been removed because they are so large and crating could cause greater injury to them like elephants and giraffes.
  3. Steps have been taken to reduce or modify vegetation in and around the facility to reduce the risk of loss to wildfire.
  4. Crates and containers with food are stored close to animal enclosures to help speed the evacuation process.
  5. Some dangerous animals are pre-planned to be moved to other zoos that can care for them properly early in the evacuation process.

The importance of pre-planning insures that animals at zoos and aquarium facilities will be kept safe in the event of a wildfire.  This is also an important concept for pet owners living in wildfire prone regions.  Preplanning to get your beloved animals out of harm’s way in the event of a wildfire will not only keep them safer but will also help you evacuate more quickly and safely.

 

Photo credit: Faith Berry

Picture of a family working on a wildfire safety project submitted by Steve Lawry of Holly Knoll Homeowner's Association in Great Falls, Virginia.Working with many neighborhoods and cities through the years, there were times when I wondered why some areas seemed so well prepared for wildfire and some were not. Most unprepared people are aware of their risk and some even know actions they need to take to reduce their risk of loss but did not really do much collaboratively as groups or individually to take steps necessary to help make themselves safer if there was a wildfire event. Although we can acknowledge that it is ultimately our responsibility to help make things safer for ourselves and our loved ones, sometimes this notion does not address the fact that there are vulnerable populations who may need extra support or people who have difficulty engaging in wildfire safety work because of a barrier of some sort.

An interesting case study recently written by Dr. Crystal A. Kolden and Carol Henson takes a look at a success story about wildfire safety efforts made by the Montecito, California fire department and local residents before the Thomas Fire and how they overcame barriers to wildfire mitigation efforts. Through the use of geospatial data, recorded interviews and other program documentation, it explored the plan the community made and the actions they took to reduce their losses during the 2017 Thomas Fire.

Some of the steps they took have been emulated by other communities I have connected with in the past, including:

  1. The local fire department conducted outreach and educational events focusing on getting to know each neighborhood's needs and helping each find specific solutions to meet those needs. They realized from these conversations that members of their community had a financial barrier. To overcome this hurdle to action, they created a community-wide chipping program as a solution to help residents, especially those with financial needs, get rid of debris removed from on and around the home.
  2. The fire department also took time to get to know where people who had physical or language barriers would need extra help during an evacuation.  In wildfire events, these populations can suffer the greatest loss. Simple actions taken in advance of a wildfire event can make a difference.
  3. The community and fire department worked together to build a bond of trust, which enabled them to work together on wildfire safety project work. A similar positive relationship enabled Falls Creek, Colorado to have a positive outcome during the 416 Fire.
  4. They provided materials in the different languages spoken by residents in the community to overcome language barriers to adopting wildfire preparedness. NFPA® has no-cost Spanish language brochures to help your community overcome this barrier.

The case study also revealed that they should have better planned for and taken steps to mitigate the effects of flooding after the fire, which is where the community experienced the greatest losses. However, the paper further discussed that their efforts to make the city safer helped reduce the losses by the community overall. I have seen first-hand where communities who have worked hard together have created safer communities where residents have developed a bond of trust.

Picture of a family working on a wildfire safety project submitted by Steve Lawry of Holly Knoll Homeowner's Association in Great Falls, Virginia.

Two forestry service personnel with two NFPA Employees sharing how to create safer landscaping in the home ignition zone

Incredible stories are pouring in about projects accomplished across the country and the globe on Wildfire Community Preparedness Day.  Here at NFPA®’s main office, we hosted a training session provided by two Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) employees about how to make changes to the landscape around the home and the home itself for wildfire safety, also shared were pruning tips to assist with liming up trees.

 

From Washington State, Nancy Miller shared, “We had a great event and removed more than 15 yards of chipped Picture of a community with prep day banner and dumpster full of chipped materialdebris!  I don't know what that represents in volume before it was chipped, but it was a very large amount.”  

 

Nancy went on to say, “We appreciated so very much your award of $500 dollars and with community member donations we were able to hire a professional to bring his large chipper and remove the tree limbs and brush that would contribute fuel for a wildfire.” 

 

Back again on the East Coast in Maine, the Aroostook Band of Micmacs, completed a community clean up and educational event that was featured on local television.

 

And in Yarnell, Arizona, Denise Roggio shared, “We wanted to share our successful event with you and your organization. We went to the Model Creek School as an activity outreach with students, grades 1 - 8.  The students learned about fire resistant plants and planted terrariums.  Then, on Saturday, May 4th, we hosted a Firewise Plants/Defensible Space workshop.” 

 

This is a picture of residents participating in a landscaping workshop in Yarnell, AZ for wildfire safetyExplaining more about the workshop, Denise said, “The $500 in funding purchased beautiful flowering plants, and 1 plant was given to each household represented.  38 people attended the workshop.  Two firefighters spoke regarding creating defensible space, and a gardening expert taught us how to properly care for and plant fire resistant native plants.  This event was wonderful!  People have requested that we do many more of these community engagement events. Thank you so very much for the Grant award! We are very grateful.”

 

We are also hearing from people who participated with Wildfire Community Preparedness Day in Canada, Mexico, Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom, and other countries.  It is great to see that more and more people are participating globally in this incredible effort. 

 

Each and every participant is a wildfire safety hero! We are looking forward to hearing more about events and projects completed not only on this day but every day.  Working together, we all can make a difference with every project and activity we complete to create safer homes and neighborhoods.  Tell us your story!

 

 

Photo credits: Top photo - courtesy Tracy Gaudette, two DCR employees sharing landscaping techniques with NFPA employees. Middle photo - courtesy Nancy Miller, community chipping event.  Bottom photo - Denise Roggio, Yarnell Landscaping event.

chipper dayIn light of recent horrific losses to life and property from wildfires, we wonder who is responsible to create homes and neighborhoods that are safer?

I think we can all have a part to play, both individually and collectively.

Residents in wildfire-prone areas should prepare for wildfire by focusing on the Home Ignition Zone (HIZ).  The Home Ignition Zone includes the home itself and the landscaping (especially the first 5 feet) around the home.  Most homes burn during wildfire events from embers (bits of burning matter) that are lofted in the air from the wildfire and can land in this critical area.  Debris such as leaves, pine needles, or branches on or around the home can act as kindling that the embers ignite and ultimately cause homes to burn.   

Once this debris is removed from the home ignition zone, residents may struggle with finding a way to easily dispose of this material. Individually, it can become cost-prohibitive to hire a contractor to remove it. This cost is an obstacle to risk reduction, and worse yet, can lead people to resort to illegal dumping.

This is where participation together on a Wildfire Community Preparedness Day project can come to the rescue! Collectively working together on a neighborhood project can lower costs, lighten the workload, and make wildfire risk reduction fun! Working together with sponsors and partners can be even better. 

Here are some ideas to overcome obstacles to debris removal:

  1. Providing green waste to a biofuel company if there is one within a reasonable distance.
  2. Apply for and share funding for a removal project, like the $500 awards provided with generous support from State Farm.
  3. Get a dumpster donated for a day and work hard to fill it up.
  4. Together hire a chipping contractor and donate chipped material to a park or garden area.
  5. Together rent a truck to take the material to a green waste recycling site.
  6. Hire goats!
  7. Connect with state, federal or other agencies to help burn material following all local and state regulations and prescribed safety precautions.

Together we all can make a difference, and being safer during a wildfire is possible! Loss from a local wildfire is not inevitable. If you've taken safety steps, please tell us about it on NFPA's Wildfire and Firewise USA Program Facebook Page or on Twitter by using the hashtag #WildfirePrepDay.

Photo credit: Taylor Hunsaker. 2018 Wildfire Community Preparedness Day chipping event in Kimberly, Idaho.

According to an NFPA® report on youth and wildfire preparedness, only 21% of students interviewed in wildfire prone regions have a family preparedness plan for when they are home alone.  Even more amazing is that only 10% had evacuation bags prepared for themselves at home.   However 65% of these young people were aware that a fire could happen at any time and anywhere.

Wildfire Community Preparedness Day is this Saturday, May 4th, and an excellent time to start the family conversation around what to do before and when a wildfire happens.   Take a moment to discuss what the plan is when your young family members are home alone or if they are home, caring for younger children.  Some ideas for developing your family plan include:

  • Connecting with a trusted neighbor close by who your children know who can evacuate them.
  • Or, setting up a schedule with other working parents in the neighborhood, so that one is always at home and can make sure the children are safe.
  • Packing a Go Bag with treasured items, water, food, prescriptions, etc.  That they can grab and leave quickly with.
  • Practice together with their pets if time allows to be able to crate them and go.
  • Have a designated contact, such as an out of town family member’s number programmed into their cell phone so that you can find each other quickly.

The most important thing that you can do as a family is to make sure your home and the landscape immediately surrounding your home is well maintained for wildfire safety.  You want to make sure that those you care about are safe and secure.  For more information about wildfire safety tips check out NFPA’s Firewise USA® webpage.

 

Photo shared with permission from Jason King

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