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How to Prevent Wild Fires

Learn what you can do to help prevent wildfires from starting.

How to Stop Fires from Starting

If you live in a wildfire-prone area you should follow our tips on how to prepare for wildfire – but also know that prevention is an important part of preparation. Because the “safest” wildfire is one that never starts, here are some tips on how to reduce the chance of wildfire from:

  • Only start a campfire or bonfire in an appropriate fire pit, cleared of all vegetation and ringed by stones.
  • Never leave a fire unattended, such as overnight.
  • Always make sure your fire is completely doused with water and smothered with dirt before leaving.
  • Don’t start a fire on a windy day. Save it for another time.
  • Dispose of used matches and butts in a closed container or cup of water.
  • Keep lighters and matches out of the reach of children.
  • Only burn yard waste or rubbish in a 50 gallon drum or fire pit (see campfire section for fire pit tips).
  • Never leave a fire unattended.
  • Always make sure your fire is completely doused or smothered with dirt before leaving.
  • Don’t burn yard waste or rubbish unless it’s allowed by your municipality.
  • Don’t burn anything highly combustible, including paper or fabric soaked in oil or gasoline.
  • Don’t start a burn on a windy day. Save it for another time.
  • Have a bucket of water, garden hose or fire extinguisher handy. Consider wetting down the surrounding grass and other vegetation before lighting your fireworks.
  • Never let children use fireworks, sparklers or fire crackers unsupervised.
  • Don’t use fireworks in states where they are banned.
  • Don’t light fireworks on windy nights.
  • Douse used fireworks with water to make sure they are completely extinguished.
  • Don’t park a hot car or other machine in dry grass.
  • Don’t allow gasoline or motor oil to spill on grass or other vegetation.
  • Tractors, off-road vehicles and equipment being used in wooded areas, such as chainsaws, must have spark arrestors.
  • How to Stop Fires from Spreading

    Of course, even if we could eliminate all human-ignited wildfires, the danger would still exist due to natural factors such as lightning. Prevention efforts should also include techniques to stop a spark or lightning strike from becoming an uncontrolled fire. Fortunately, the way we plant and maintain the landscaping around our homes can reduce the chance that a small fire becomes a wildfire.
  • Create a defensible space around your home by using the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) zone concept.
  • Choose fire-resistant plants. Consult a landscaper in your area or this state-by-state list of fire-resistant plants at the National Fire Protection Association’s Firewise website.
  • Create empty space between shrubs and trees to reduce the chance of flames leaping between them.
  • Prune trees above the height of bushes and shrubs (approximately 6’-10’ off the ground) and remove dead branches.
  • Mow grassy areas regularly so that the grass is never more than 4” high.
  • Remove dead and dry plants that could fuel a fire, as well as fallen leaves, pine cones, and other dry plant material.
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