5 Tips for Wildfire Prevention

I once knew a guy who had a business making flower arrangements. One day, he decided he wanted to grow his business, so he put together an ad for his business. It was the ugliest thing I ever saw, but when he went to others for advice, everybody was too afraid of hurting his feelings to tell him. So, he posted copies of this ugly thing up all over town and it just killed his business. The moral of the story? Only you can prevent florist flyers.

A Pinch of Prevention

Terrible jokes aside, wildfire prevention is super important here in Utah. Being a desert and in the middle of a drought, the vegetation around the state is going to be very dry. Dry vegetation is prone to burning, making wildfires a serious threat to our safety. We had many last year and we don’t want to have them again. Certain natural phenomena – like lighting strikes – might start wildfires with no help from human hands, but that’s no reason to increase the risk. So, in the interest of safety, we want to talk about wildfire prevention.

Steps of Wildfire Prevention

a campfire likely to cause a wildfire because safety precautions are being ignored
This campfire is ignoring all the safety precautions. Photo by Vlad Bagacian

1. Use Caution with Campfires

An important step to wildfire prevention is just being careful with campfires. The basic steps are easy. Only start a fire in a designated fire pit when one is provided. If a fire pit isn’t provided, never make a fire pit near vegetation – it should always be a dug hole away from grass and trees, with a ring of stones around it. Never start a fire on a windy day to prevent sparks and embers from being blown into dry vegetation. Most importantly, never leave a campfire unattended. Always put the fire out and douse the wood in water twice to prevent burning embers from rekindling. If you see an unattended fire, report it immediately.

2. Don’t Throw Cigarettes or Matches Away

This one should be obvious, but a lot of people ignore it. A cigarette or match is an obviously hot object; just tossing it away is a huge fire risk. Do not ever simply throw one away. The proper way to deal with them is to have a cup of water to drop it in after you’re finished. Letting it soak makes sure that there isn’t enough heat to start a fire when you do dispose of it. After it’s soaked, you can throw it in the trash can.

3. Be Careful With Flammable Liquids

a set of burning matches sitting on a piece of wood
Be careful with matches, cigarettes, and flammable liquids.

Propane stoves, lanterns, heaters, lighters; all of these things use flammable liquids and all can be dangerous if misused. Flammable liquid will quickly start a fire if it gets out of control and because it’s liquid, it can spray or spill. Make sure you keep all flammable liquids away from heat sources. Before you attempt to refill them, make sure they’ve been turned off and have had at least an hour to cool down. This will make sure there’s no chance it’s hot enough to start a fire while refilling it.

4. Follow All City Ordinances for Fire Safety

Need to burn some trash? Make sure you get a permit and only do it on days when the city says the risk of fire safety is low. Want to light up some fireworks? Only do it when the city says its okay and always do it away from dry vegetation and homes. When you do either of these activities, make sure you remove any flammable debris from the area. Following basic city ordinances for fire safety can go a long way to preventing wildfires.

5. Make Sure You Keep Up With Fire Risks

All around Utah, cities will use radio, local broadcasts, and other methods to keep people alerted to the risk of fires. Make sure you know what these are and that you pay attention to them. On days where fire risk is high, take extra precautions to avoid accidentally starting a wildfire. Plan events around these risks and you can avoid the danger altogether.

In Case of Evacuation

Fireman fighting wildfire in Lehi Utah
Photo courtesy of KSL.com

If a wildfire does start – and it can do so even if everybody takes extra care – you may be ordered by the city to evacuate. This is for your own safety, so do not ignore it. Alpine Cleaning and Restoration, a company in Cache Valley that handles fire damage restoration and other forms of repair, wrote their own article on how to prepare for a wildfire evacuation. It serves as a great guide for getting out and protecting your house from destruction.

That said, it’s better for everyone if a wildfire doesn’t start. While you should prepare for the possibility of evacuation, you should put more focus on wildfire prevention than wildfire survival. If we can avoid the problem altogether, then nobody has to worry about losing their homes or property. So familiarize yourself with these steps to prevent wildfires and we can all rest assured that the danger is minimized.