Prevent Brush and Wildfires With These Safe Recreation Tips
June 10, 2021
For decades, Smokey the Bear has famously advised that “only you can prevent wildfires!”
If statistics are any indication, the blue jeans-wearing bear with the ranger hat knows what he’s talking about.
According to the National Parks Service, nearly 85% of wildfires in the U.S. are sparked by humans. Human-related causes range from unattended campfires to the burning of debris, equipment use and malfunctions, negligently-discarded cigarettes and intentional acts of arson. And, while the western half of the country may suffer the biggest disasters (including more than 4 million acres burned in California last year), the rest of the country isn’t immune. In 2020, the National Interagency Fire Center reported, wildfires burned 12,875 acres in North Carolina, 99,413 acres in Florida and 11,919 in New Jersey.
Annual wildfire-related losses to insureds are volatile, and can run from $3 billion to more than $20 billion in disaster years, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
Through these tips from the American Red Cross, you can ensure that you’re enjoying the outdoors safely and responsibly.
Cars, Tools & Other Combustion Engines
- Never park a hot car or other machine in dry grass.
- Avoid the spill of gasoline or motor oil onto grass or other vegetation.
- Tractors, off-road vehicles and equipment being used in wooded areas, such as chainsaws, must have spark arrestors.
Campfires & Bonfires
- Only start a campfire or bonfire in an appropriate fire pit, cleared of all vegetation and ringed by stones.
- Never leave a fire unattended, including overnight. Rather, ensure that it’s completely doused or smothered with dirt before leaving.
- It goes without saying, never burn rubbish on a windy day! Save it for another time.
- Dispose of used matches and cigarette butts in a closed container or cup of water. Never throw them on the ground!
- Keep lighters and matches out of the reach of children.
- When landscaping, choose fire resistant plants, and mow grassy areas regularly so that grass is never more than 4-inches high.
- Remove dead and dry plants that could fuel a fire, as well as fallen leaves, pine cones and other dry plant material.
- Before burning any waste, educate yourself on any ordinances of rules for burning in your municipality. If burning is permitted, burn yard waste or rubbish in a 50-gallon drum or fire pit, never on the ground.
- Never burn anything highly combustible, including paper or fabric soaked in oil or gasoline.
2021's wildfire season is shaping up to be a severe one.
Between January 1st and June 9th, 26,833 wildfires have been reported across the country, compared to 20,351 last year at this time, the National Interagency Fire Center reports.
To date this year, more than 833,479 acres have burned. While we can’t control Mother Nature, we can mitigate our own risk by practicing the above habits for responsible recreation.