Your Guide To Wildfire Safety And Prevention
Wildfires in Florida? Before this year, it probably seemed unlikely. Dry states like California and Texas seem destined for dangerous wildfires, but Florida, with its heavy amounts of rain, never seemed like a likely candidate. But unfortunately, unusually dry conditions have put Florida at a high-risk, and wildfires are terrorizing many parts of the state, including Tampa Bay.
Plenty of Floridians have never encountered serious wildfires, and many of us are asking questions. What caused this? How can I prevent future wildfires? What is a burn ban?
Here’s what you need to know:
What Is A Wildfire?
A wildfire is an uncontrolled fire that occurs in a wildlife area, like a park or forest. Wildfires are also called forest fires, grass fires, or bushfires. They can be caused by natural elements, like lighting. However, four out of five wildfires are caused by human activity. People cause wildfires through criminal activity like arson, but also through simple carelessness, like forgetting to put out a fire at a campsite.
When conditions are dry, wildfires are more likely — and more dangerous without any rain to stop them. Since they can spread so rapidly, wildfires are often difficult and expensive to fight.
Human fatalities do occur during wildfires, but in general, the major damage occurs to property and wildlife.
Fire prevention is pretty obvious: just don’t start fires! You can do this by always being cautious about starting a fire, even in a controlled area without a high risk of fire. Keep all fires controlled, and fully extinguish them when you are done. Do not leave fires unattended. If an area, like a campsite, has signs prohibiting fires, do not start a fire, even a small and seemingly innocent campfire.
Fire safety is especially important during a burn ban. A burn ban is a temporary restriction of burning that occurs when fire danger levels are elevated, or when human health is adversely affected by degradation in air quality.
During a burn ban, avoid burning products like:
- Paper products
- Treated lumber
- Rubber materials
- Aerosol containers
- Yard waste, like grass clippings or tree limbs
You should also refrain from certain activities, including:
- Outdoor grilling
- Using a lawnmower or chain saw
- Anything that involves burning solid fuel, like wood or charcoal
- Smoking in vulnerable outdoor areas
The restrictions may vary from county to county, and depend on the severity of situation. If a person is found in violation of a burn ban, they can face a fine of $15,000 or more depending on the situation.
During a burn ban, report anyone who is in violation of the ban.
Like a hurricane or other weather event, it’s advisable to prepare in advance for a wildfire. Have an emergency kit that includes items like:
- A three day’s supply of water
- A three day’s supply of non-perishable foods (and food for pets)
- Battery-powered radio and extra batteries
- Extra car keys, credit cards, and cash
- Emergency contact numbers
- Sanitary supplies
- Map of evacuation routes
- Easily-carried valuables
- Personal information
- Phone chargers
- First aid supplies
You should plan out several evacuation routes, because heavy smoke or flames could shut down certain roads or highways. Make sure every member of your family knows about the emergency plans. If you have to evacuate, tell a friend or family member where you are going.
With a little preparation and instruction-following, you can prevent — and survive — a forest fire.
The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.