CALIFORNIA, USA — As Smokey Bear says, only YOU can prevent wildfires. But are you doing absolutely everything that you can to help protect the forests and lands typically ravaged by these uncontrolled fires?
Most wildfires are caused by people, according to the National Park Service. Since meteorologists are not able to predict these natural disasters, it's up to all of us -- and especially those who live in fire-prone areas -- to plan ahead in the event of a wildfire.
Here are some tips that can help you stay on top of wildfire prevention and ultimately help protect your home from fire damage:
Call your local fire department or park service immediately if you notice an unattended or out-of-control fire.
Don't worry about bothering your local law enforcement. Your call could save lives and precious forests!
Playing with fire is always a bad idea.
Never play with matches or lighters in an area with vegetation that could easily be ignited.
Create defensible space.
Defensible space is an area around a building in which vegetation and other debris is completely cleared. At least 100 feet is recommended. This reduces the spread of fire and can save your home or building from igniting. And yes, it really works!
Clear those leaves from your yard!
Dry leaves on the ground are a common sight this time of year, and while that multicolored foliage is beautiful, they are also highly flammable.
Never leave a fire unattended.
Ever. Seriously. Always be sure to completely extinguish a fire by dousing it with water and stirring it until the ashes are cold.
Discard your cigarettes responsibly!
Do not discard cigarettes, matches, or other smoking materials from a moving vehicle. Dry brush on the side of the road could ignite. Completely extinguish your cigarettes and matches before disposing of them.
Avoid backyard burning and open burning, especially on windy days.
Besides the smoke contributing to air pollution, these types of fires are often not as well managed as you might think. Open burning is also illegal in most parts of Sacramento County.
Prevent a draft.
Close all windows, vents, and doors in your home to restrict air movement.
Fill large vessels with water.
Pools, hot tubs, garbage cans, tubs, even pots and pans — all of these can be filled with water. This can help to slow or discourage fire.
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In California, fires are burning more intensely than ever before. Megafires destroy entire neighborhoods. Some of the deadliest fires have been caused by our own electric grid, but all fires are burning worse because of climate change and an unhealthy forest landscape.