May is National Wildfire Awareness Month, which focuses on prevention and preparedness. Now let me guess, when we say wildfires your brain automatically thinks of places out West. California, Colorado, Arizona and Montana tend to come to mind. Everyone remembers the wildfires in California last year that seemed like they would never end.
Most people around here don’t think wildfires are that prevalent in the Southeast, but according to Facts + Statistics: Wildfires , but North Carolina and Georgia rank in the top 10 for wildfires ranked by the number of fires and the number of acres burned for 2019. Alabama had 1,107 wildfires last year with over 22,000 acres burned. What steps should you take to prevent wildfires? Well, it’s like Smokey the Bear says “Only you can prevent forest fires”.
According to the National Park Service , 85 percent of wildfires are caused by humans. Unattended campfires, cigarettes, burning debris, and arson are some of the top human-caused situations that lead to wildfires. Natural events such as lightning and volcanic eruptions can also result in wildfires.
Each person can play a part in reducing the number of wildfires by adhering to the following:
- If you see an unattended fire, report it to the proper authorities.
- Ensure campfires and/or fire pits are fully extinguished when you are done using them or leaving the vicinity and can no longer watch the fire.
- Lit cigarettes should never be thrown out on the ground, especially from a moving car.
- Before lighting a fire, call the proper authorities to check if your area is under a burn ban.
- Exercise caution when handling flammable liquids such as gasoline or propane.
- Fireworks should only be used in open areas free from debris and trees and only if there is no ordinance prohibiting their use.
If a wildfire occurs near you, stay alert to safety and evacuation ordinances. Ensure your route to safety is clear and that family and friends know where you are going. If you become trapped, call 9-1-1.
Talk to your insurance agent today to make sure you are covered in the event a wildfire damages your home or business.
To track current wildfires in Alabama, check out the Alabama Forestry Commission.