American Red Cross
Any time is a good time for Floridians to safeguard their home and family against wildfires. However, April 8-14 Wildfire Awareness Week provides the opportune time to share wildfire prevention information. The Red Cross suggests Floridians use the week to learn their wildfire risk and get prepared.
“Florida is unique in that it experiences a year-round wildfire season, with heightened wildfire activity during the spring months,” said Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service’s Florida Forest Service. “Although we may receive sporadic rain, extended drought conditions are forecasted to persist throughout spring and into summer. Over the coming weeks and months, it is likely that Florida will experience very high to extreme wildfire danger due to these dry conditions. It is critical for Floridians to take steps to ensure their own safety.”
In a typical year, Florida experiences more than 4,600 wildfires, burning nearly 110,000 acres in Florida. This year since January 1, more than 1,100 wildfires have burned nearly 20,000 acres. In 2011, the Florida Forest Service responded to more than 4,700 wildfires which burned over 220,000 acres. The three leading causes of wildfires are arson, uncontrolled yard debris or trash fires, and lightning.
Wildfire prevention is a shared responsibility. Whether you own or rent your home, it is important to have a plan in advance to protect your family, your personal property, and your pets from the devastation of wildfire. Since there is an increase in the frequency and severity of large uncontrollable wildfires, informed action ensures you lessen the causes and effects of unwanted wildfire.
We offer these four tips for you to plan for wildfire season:
• Burning yard waste does not require FFS authorization, but you should check with city and county officials to see if there are any restrictions in your area.
• Your fire must be contained to an eight-foot diameter pile or non-combustible barrel and must be at least 25 feet from forests, 25 feet from your house, 50 feet from a paved public road, and 150 feet from other occupied buildings.
• Do not burn on windy days or when humidity is below 30 percent.
• Never leave a fire unattended, and make sure it is out before you leave.
In addition to the tips listed above, Floridians should also report any suspicious fires to 911 or their local Florida Forest Service office. Kids can also learn how to protect their family’s home and stay safe from a wildfire with the Firewise Simulator at kidsgetaplan.com. For wildfire information, please visit www.floridaforestservice.com or follow the Department’s Florida Forest Service on Facebook or Twitter.