That Smokey the Bear is a smart fellow…err…animal mascot. According to statistics from the National Interagency Fire Center, 64,807 human-caused fires burned more than 1.3 million acres of wild land in 2010. That's 1.3 million acres that didn't have to burn had the YOU part of the equation followed proper burning protocol.
Springtime actually brings a great wildfire threat to many parts of the country because the warm and dry weather entices many people to clean up their yards and burn the debris. Those fires then grow out of control (again the YOU part of the equation). Most human-caused fires are preventable when proper precautions are taken.
Here are just a few things you can do to avoid starting a wildfire:
- Follow the law. The community you live in may have burning regulations, like requiring permits, restrictions on the times and places for open burning, and restrictions on the items that can be burned. Check with your local officials before burning anything.
- Watch the weather. Don't attempt to burn on windy days or during periods of drought. Check with your local fire official to make sure the weather conditions are safe for burning.
- Choose the right site. The burn site should be surrounded by gravel or dirt for at least ten feet in all directions and kept wet to prevent the fire from spreading.
- Never leave a fire unattended. Sparks could blow into leaves or grass and spread quickly.
- Keep water nearby. Keep a garden hose or bucket of water close to help control the fire in an emergency.
- Extinguish the fire properly. Use water to extinguish the fire completely by dousing the site and stirring until everything is drowned and not emitting any heat whatsoever. Any remaining coals should also be scooped up with a shovel and dunked into cold water. When you are done, everything it the fire pit should be cold to the touch.
- Consider alternatives to burning. Yard waste can be made into mulch or composted, while newspapers and many other items can be recycled.
Every year, many families lose their homes and possessions to wildfires caused by humans. Don't be a part of the statistics. Consider taking Smokey's pledge and show your commitment to wildfire prevention.
Stay safe through all seasons. Your safety is number one to us. For peace of mind when a wildfire threatens your area, contact a TCU Insurance Agency to talk about a Indiana home insurance policy.