Friday, May 01, 2015

Tips to Reduce Wildfire Risk

As I write this New Jersey is experiencing high wildfire danger (halfway between low and extreme, go here and scroll down the page to see more information on wildfire danger ratings in New Jersey). I'm not quite sure what wildfire activity is happening in northern New Jersey as I accidently had my online scanner which was tuned to the New Jersey Forest Fire Service Division A. I have since resumed the online scanner feed and if I hear anything of interest before I stop writing this article, I'll let you know.

Yesterday I know that there were four brush fires in Hunterdon County, New Jersey, thanks to this article from the Hunterdon Democrat. I expect that there may have been other smaller brush fires around the State, but I have no concrete information.

I was reminded about the importance of things that we can do to reduce wildfire risk by an April 29th Press Release from the NJ Department of Environmental Protection: Christie Administration Urges Caution During Wildfire Season, State Fire Officials Warn Dry and Windy Springtime Conditions Increase Fire Risks. Here are some tips on from this press release on how you can reduce wildfire risks:

  • Use ashtrays in vehicles. Discarding cigarettes, matches and smoking materials on the ground is a violation of New Jersey law.
  • Obtain necessary permits for campfires. Don’t leave fires unattended. Douse them completely.
  • Keep matches and lighters away from children. Teach them about the dangers of fire.
  • People living in forested or wooded areas should maintain a defensible buffer by clearing vegetation within 30 feet of any structures. Also, make sure fire trucks can access driveways.
  • Report suspicious vehicles and individuals to authorities.

  • Be careful when using wood stoves and fireplaces, both of which can emit embers that can spark fires. Also, fully douse ashes with water before disposal.

  • While these tips are written with New Jersey residents in mind, I think that these tips, perhaps with some modifications for where you live, are a starting point for reducing wildfire risk. For example, many locations suggest 100 feet of defensible space around a home. Some people may want to have an emergency kit packed with essential items (food, water, clothing, money, important papers, etc) so you can make a quick get away. Then there may be the issue of where you evacuate to, a shelter or perhaps a friend a relative.

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