Everyone Can Get Involved in Wildfire Community Preparedness Day

National Wildfire Community Preparedness Day is coming up on Saturday, May 5th. This marks its 5th anniversary.

The idea behind the day is to teach awareness through public education. And to get local communities to prepare and reduce their risk of wildfire damage.

Unfortunately, the number of wildfires in the US has been skyrocketing recently.

The easiest way to begin to turn this around is for every American citizen to become involved.

And there are simple tips you can take to help protect your own neighborhood.

2017 Was the Most Expensive Firefighting Year on Record

The US Forest Service spent over $2,000,000,000 on firefighting efforts in 2017 in the U.S alone.

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, there were 66,131 wildfires that burned nearly 10,000,000 acres of land.

If you lived in one of those states affected, you might have seen the carnage first hand. You may even have been one of the many people who had to evacuate to stay safe.

But even if you do not live near where those fires occurred, future fires could affect you. Every state has woodlands, and once a fire spreads to a neighborhood, lives are in danger.

NFPA Makes It Easy for Communities

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has challenged Americans to get involved. They recommend that we each commit a couple of hours or the entire day to this cause. Our actions will help reduce our communities’ wildfire risk.

They suggest we encourage people we know to develop projects. This could include our friends, families, relatives, faith-based groups and even youth organizations. The idea is that local action is the best way to help protect communities from future wildfire risk.

Communities can apply for $500 to fund their wildfire risk reduction activities. The NFPA even provides customized flyers, safety tips and safety gear suggestions.

8 steps you can take today to prevent wildfires

So what kind of “preparation” should you do to help prevent wildfires? The NFPA gives 8 easy steps you can start to take today:

  • Rake pine needles and dry leaves within three to five feet of a home’s foundation. As time permits, continue up to a 30-foot distance around the home. Dispose of collected debris in appropriate trash receptacles.
  • Get out your measuring tape and see how close woodpiles are to the home. If closer than 30 feet, you need to move them.
  • Sweep porches and decks, clearing them of leaves and pine needles. Rake under decks, porches, sheds and play structures. Make sure you dispose of debris.
  • Mow grasses to a height of four inches or less.
  • On mature trees, use hand pruners and loppers to cut low-hanging tree branches. They should be at least four feet from the ground. (The specific height depends on the type and size of the tree).
  • Gather any tree limbs and broken branches on the ground. Take them to a disposal site.
  • Don’t store items under decks and porches. It’s better to store them in a storage shed, garage or basement. Don’t store gasoline cans and portable propane tanks indoors. You should store them away from the home.
  • Distribute wildfire safety information to neighbors. Staff a table at a grocery or hardware store, or other high-traffic locations.

They also recommend you locate two alternate routes out of your neighborhood. These should be besides your normal route. And it’s important to make sure your family has a plan and practices a drill using those routes.

And last but not least, they recommend you build an emergency kit for your animals ahead of time.

Proof Wildfire Prevention Works

The NFTA funded a total of 150 projects in 2017, spanning Washington D.C. and 42 states. A couple of leaders share their stories here:

“We had a very busy… fire fuel reduction project. Approximately six tons of dry trees, grasses, shrubs, etc., were removed and mulched to be used along the borders to further reduce our fire risks. We are very grateful for the funding that allowed us to make our community a more fire-resistant and safer place to live.” – Diane “Maka’ala” Kanealii, Executive Director, Kailapa Community Association

“I appreciate … [getting] to participate in the Wildfire Community Preparedness Day. It has been wonderful to work with organizations we don’t typically think of when smoke is in the air.” – Darron Williams, Bureau of Indian Affairs

I’d like to encourage everyone to visit the NFPA website to see how you can get involved.

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