firefightersWe’ve heard over and over about the California drought and the need to cut our water use. The lack of rainfall in California over not only the past year, but over the past few years has made for a very high wildfire risk. Yet how often have we been reminded of the ways to prevent a wildfire?  Wildfires are becoming a big concern as we settle in to the summer heat and many of us don’t realize that some simple changes to our daily habits can greatly lower the risk of a fire sparking near our homes and communities. It’s also important to talk with your insurance agent about your coverage for both household and wild fires as they can be classified as separate categories in your policy.

Brush fires and wild fires are not something most of us worry about, especially in more urban developments with few open spaces around. However, it takes very little for a brush fire to begin and it can quickly turn into a raging wild fire engulfing nearby homes in mere minutes.

Follow these simple tips to help avoid a brush fire near you:

-Be aware when driving or parking in an area with tall dry grass and/or nearby bushes; contact with the hot exhaust pipe can start a fire. Hot oil leaking from a vehicle can also start a brush fire underneath the car.

– Gas powered lawnmowers should not be started near dry grass areas. Sparks from starting the mower can smolder in the grass for a while before there is a noticeable flame.

– Cigarettes should never be ground out or disposed of in the grass, or near leaves or brush. While driving, ash should be disposed of in an ash tray inside the vehicle. Ash and cigarettes disposed of outside of the car can spark a fire in the brush that lines most roadways.

– When using charcoal, be sure the coals are completely cool before disposing of them. A good way to make sure they are out is to place them in a metal bucket and cover them with water. Once they stop smoking, cover them with water again to cool them down completely.

–  When using a fire pit, make sure the area is cleared of dry grass and leaves before you start the flame and make sure you have a strong flame resistant perimeter around the fire. Watch it closely and do not leave it unattended for any reason. Be sure to heavily douse the pit with water when you are finished with it. If you are not confident that the pit is cool enough to touch, then it is not cool enough to leave unattended. Of course, please always check before you decide to start a fire in a fire pit.

In the event that you see smoke or a flame in any grassy area, never assume someone else has already reported it. Please call 9-1-1 immediately. Emergency operators and firefighters would much rather receive thirty calls rather than zero on a fire that could potentially harm people, homes and wildlife.

The 4th of July holiday is an especially important time to follow these tips and general fire safety rules as most of us will be using our barbecues, lighting up fire pits in the evening, and enjoying the fireworks this weekend. Please be responsible, and keep an eye out for any signs of a brush fire.

Check back tomorrow for our Quick Guide To An Awesome Independence Day!