Having grown up in the high desert, I’m very aware of fire seasons, including drought risks and forest fires. When I six or seven years old, my family housed a group of people we’d never previously met–their home was evacuated for a nearby fire. I was shocked at how calm the family was–certainly this wasn’t the first time they’d been evacuated. In the dry heat of a high desert it often thunderstorms–but it’s rarely accompanied by any rain. Where lightening strikes, there’s a potential for dry sage brush to become a voracious fire, devouring anything in it’s path. The summer month sunsets were often muddied with a reddish tint for the fires in the area; we just dealt with that, and my parents continue to deal with that today.
Where I live now it rains…and rains. And rains. But just this past weekend we had temperatures of dry 100+ degree weather, when a typical early June is low 70’s and rainy. It’s more reminiscent of where I grew up, and as much as I love the heat for growing corn, it’s not such a great thing for fire risks. The drier the land, the easier it is for a fire to take hold.
The vast majority of the US is forecasted to be in for a hot hot summer–with temperatures varying between “above” and “much above” average–with the only reprieve in the Southeastern side of Texas.
Minimizing Risks during Fire Season
Completely avoiding fire risks isn’t totally possible. You can minimize risks with your behavior though. If you’re in a drought-ridden state, (you can check to see if your state is higher risk than normal here: US Drought Monitor) these tips are even more important.
- Fire extinguishers–first, have them available! Second, make sure they are charged–even if you don’t use your fire extinguishers, make sure to maintain
and charge your extinguishers annually. My local fire protection shop sends me a reminder a month before my extinguishers need to be serviced, which is awesome. Check to see if yours will do that for you, as well.
- Check to make sure your smoke alarms are functioning properly. You know how annoying it is when the fire alarm starts beeping every 45 seconds when the battery is low? Don’t just take the battery out and say you’ll replace it. Order a pack online for a few and have backups for when that chirp….chirp….chirp begins. And check your alarm every 3 months to make sure it’s functioning–there’s a little test button on each modern day fire alarm. (Tip: Have dogs? Make sure they’re outside when you do this. Mine really hate that noise.) There’s some pretty cool apps for getting alert for when fire alarms go off too! (Jeremiah will be touching more on fire technology on Thursday.)
- Have an escape plan. Make sure you and your family have 2 ways out of each room, if at all possible. Don’t assume your children know exactly what to do if a fire were to start; instead, go over the plan with them beforehand.
- When camping, don’t start a fire if you’re in a drought area. Most times this will be posted wherever you’re staying, but if it’s not, just use common sense! Additionally, if you are starting a fire –whether it be while camping or while roasting marshmallows with friends in the backyard– make certain the fire is totally out before you leave it unattended. I like to have a bucket of water nearby, which I put out any lingering coals with, then smother it with soil so the fire doesn’t have any oxygen.
Ultimately, you are limited with what you can do to reduce fire risks, but taking precautions won’t hurt. With another hot summer already here, it’s smart to go over your checklist of things to consider during this time of year. Remember to check out if your state is in a drought or drier than normal before deciding to light that evening firework.
What are your fire risk thoughts and tips?