Every day, local fire departments respond to 915 brush, grass or forest fires – 140,000 per year on average. Brush fires are closer than you may think, occurring where you live, work, play and travel, spreading across property and consuming everything in their path. They are so prevalent today that eight of the costliest fires in U.S. history have occurred in the last two decades alone. Do you know how to protect your home or business from getting caught in the blaze?
You don’t have to live next to the woods to become a victim of brush fires!
Natural vegetation fires that occur annually include:
- Brush fires – 41%
- Grass fires – 37%
- Forest, wood, or wildland fires – 10%
- Unclassified – 13%
How do these fires begin?
- 20% are intentionally set.
- 16% begin from hot embers or ashes.
- 14% result from burning debris or waste.
- 14% from high wind.
- 11% from smoking paraphernalia (cigarettes, cigars, etc.).
- 5% from playing with fire.
- 4% from fireworks.
- 4% from lightning.
- 4% from sparks, embers and flames resulting from equipment operation.
- 4% from power or utility lines.
Prevent and Protect Yourself from Brush Fires
Brush, grass and forest fires peak in March and April. July is also a peak month, with the 4th experiencing a spike five times above the daily average thanks to America’s friend, the firework. It is possible to prevent and protect yourself from brush fires, however. First, by preventing the start of unwanted fires, and second, by minimizing the effects of fires that have been started.
Prevent brush fires!
- Keep matches and lighters away from children.
- Provide safe disposal containers for smoking materials.
- Dispose of smoking materials promptly and properly in fire-resistant containers – never on the ground!
- Don’t start a fire outside on dry or windy days.
- Leave the fireworks to the pros!
- When using equipment, minimize sparks or avoid the activity when fire risk is high – this includes lawn mowers.
- Use care when refueling equipment.
- Do not use fuel as an accelerant to burn waste.
- Closely attend any outdoor fire and ensure it is completely extinguished when you leave.
- Keep a hose on hand long enough to reach property boundaries.
Minimize Brush Fire Damage
- Reduce fuel sources stored in or around your home, from gas to paints and cleaning chemicals.
- Store fuels in approved safety cans.
- Keep all branches and shrubs a minimum of 15 feet away from stove pipes, chimney outlets, grills, and heat sources.
- Keep stacks of firewood at least 10 feet from your home’s structure.
- Clean dead branches, leaves, and brush surrounding your home’s structure regularly.
- Keep your gutter, eaves, and roof clear of leaves and debris.
- Trim back tree branches that hang over your home, raising canopies to 8 feet or higher.
- Trim hedges to a 3 foot maximum.
- Opt for gravel over mulch in garden beds, and slower burning plants.
- Choose non-flammable roofing, and fire-resistant siding, vents, decks/porches, and fences.
- Learn and comply with local fire safety ordinances for outdoor/open air burning, including campfires, fire pits, chimineas, outdoor fireplaces, and grills.
- Learn the basics of defensible space and its importance to your home from “How to Have a Firewise Home” on Firewise.org.
Aren’t you glad you brushed up on brush fire safety? At Rainbow International®, we hope you never feel the burn. But if you do, we can help you regain your cool fast. Contact us to learn more about our 24/7 emergency board up and tarp over services today.