Each year, wildfires claim lives, destroy homes and cause damage totaling hundreds of millions of dollars — or more.
The sad thing is that many of them are preventable, because, according to the National Park Service, many (if not most) wildfires are caused by humans. The Fall is off to quite a dry start in Greenville and unfortunately wildfire smoke has become part of our daily life.
So whether you’re going on one last camping trip this year, you live in an area with lots of natural fuel or you’re just planning to burn some yard debris, here are some questions to ask yourself when you’re dealing with fire — anytime of year.
Q: What should I do before I start my fire?
A: First of all, make sure you follow all rules and regulations, whether it’s a campfire or any other kind of blaze — even on a campground barbecue. Don’t start any fire outside of areas deemed appropriate by local authorities. Keep a shovel and a water source nearby, such as a bucket for small fires and a working hose for larger ones.
Q: How can I be sure to keep my fire under control?
A: Again, knowing where you’re allowed to burn and where you aren’t is crucial. Clear any excess flammable material from the area so the fire doesn’t spread. And keep an eye on the weather forecast, too. Depending on certain factors, such as wind, it might not be a good idea to have a fire at all.
Q: What about putting my fire out?
A: Remember, if it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave, so make sure your fire is completely out before leaving the area. Pour lots of water on it to drown all embers, then stir and make sure everything is wet and cool to the touch. If you don’t have water, use dirt, but don’t bury the fire because it will continue to smolder. Mix dirt and sand with the embers and continue to stir.
Q: I don’t want to start a fire. How can I make sure I don’t?
A: Using a little common sense can play a big part in preventing wildfires. Don’t discard burning cigarettes or matches improperly, and be careful where you park your vehicles — heat from exhaust can ignite dry grass. Never use fireworks in an unapproved manner or area. And always keep an eye on your surroundings.
If you see an unattended or out-of-control fire, call 911 or the local fire department immediately. We all have a role to play in preventing wildfires!