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Reducing your wildfire risk

Wildfires can happen at any time in Florida.  In Brevard County, we must always be on the watch and be careful not to accidentally start a brush fire.  Although sometimes started by lightning, others are start accidentally.  And currently, Brevard County is considered high risk for wildfires.

The Brevard County Fire Rescue Center and the Florida Forest Service both have some great tips to help us all do our part to prevent wildfires.

Check your house.  As a homeowner, it’s important to keep anything off of your house and roof that is ignitable.  This includes removing leaves from the gutters, removing any dead vines that might be climbing the house and trimming back trees that might extend over the roof.

Create your defensible space.  This means removing anything from around the home that might be easily flammable or attractive to flying sparks.  You need to do the following within 30 to 100 feet of your home:

* remove any dried or dead vegetation

* replace any flammable mulch with stone or gravel

* remove any flammable plants, such as wax myrtle or red cedar and replace with less flammable plants, such as citrus trees or azalea bushes

* remove firewood from this area and place outside your safety zone

* move propane tanks outside your defensible space or get it as far away from the home as possible

* thin trees in this area so there is space between them

Create your plan of action.  You need to sit down with your family and create your own plan for keeping fires extinguished.  If someone in the home smokes, make sure they always extinguish the cigarette butt and dispose of it properly.  It’s also important to figure out multiple exits from the home and a place to meet up again across the street or down the road.

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Be careful burning debris.  Many fires are started by accident when either a campfire or a brush fire gets out of control.  When burning anything outside, make sure to first check and comply with all location regulations.  If you are allowed to burn materials outdoors, pick a day and time when the winds are low.  If there are high winds, the chances of sparks accidentally blowing away is also high.

If you do burn debris, create your burn site with care. Make sure to clear out an area with non flammable materials.  It’s best if you can surround the pit with at least ten feet of gravel or dirt.  Make sure to water the surrounding areas thoroughly so if sparks do escape, they won’t catch anything else on fire.  And finally – make absolutely sure you stay with the fire the whole time that it’s lit. Once everything is burnt down, water the entire area just to make sure there are no sparks remaining.

28 Nov

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