Hot, dry drought conditions can create greater fire hazards than usual, and many people are unaware of just how easily a major wildfire can ignite. ArkansasRiverValley.com wants you to stay safe, this summer, and offers these fire safety tips.
- Avoid outdoor burning, such as brush piles, burning trash, campfires, or any other open flame. Even grilling is not advised, when extremely dry drought conditions exist.
- Dispose of cigarettes and other smoking materials into fire safe containers. Tossing smoldering cigarettes onto the ground should be avoided.
- Absolutely refrain from shooting fireworks during dangerously dry conditions, especially rockets which can take sparks to dry areas unseen until it’s too late.
- Properly store flammable materials such as gasoline, alcohol, paint, lighter, and matches. These materials may reach their critical points during hot weather and can possibly result to fire.
- Be extremely careful when using and fueling chainsaws, lawn mowers, and other lawn care equipment. High heat conditions make ignition of the fuel vapors more likely. Find shade if possible and allow the machinery to cool if it has been running. Also avoid welding in dangerously dry conditions, as the sparks can easily ignite the dry vegetation around you.
- Be careful where you park your vehicles. The hot underside of a car or truck filled with gasoline parked over dead grass or leaves is an explosion waiting to happen. Be sure to park on concrete or solid dirt or gravel, expecially during hot and dry drought conditions. Do not park where vegetation touches the vehicle.
- When traveling, be sure that vehicle, tires, and other moving parts (especially metal) are in excellent working order. Chains or other recreational trailer equipment must not drag or dangle from the truck, as these can become hot or create sparks causing not just one but multiple wildfires along your route. Look behind you as your driving to make sure all is well. It’s always a good idea to carry a fire extinguisher along on you trip.
- At home, create a “fire safety zone” around your house and other buildings. Maintain an area of 30 or 40 foot around your home which is clear of brush, tall grass, and other flammable vegetation. Fire moves more quickly up steep hills, so extend that zone in the event your hone is on a steep slope. Keep trees and shrubs pruned around chimney outlets and stove pipes. Keep your entire landscape mowed, raked, and free of dead limbs.
- Check any barns, outbuildings, and storage areas for flammables, such as pesticides, cleaning fluids, and paints and dispose of unneeded items. When possible, store hay and bedding away from the stabling area of barns. Keep only a certain amount in the main barn, and replenish it when you need it. Just like vehicles at your home, avoid parking tractors or other farm equipment over flammable vegetation or near piles of bedding, hay or litter where hot engines could spark fires.
- Beware of any “spontaneous combustion” type of self-ignition which can occur in large masses of organic material, such as piles of wood shavings, manure, and tightly packed stacks of insufficiently cured hay. In damp hay, decomposition begins near the center of the mass but, because there’s no ventilation, the heat thrown off by the process builds until the ignition point for the drier surface hay is reached. A fire then may erupt several days after the storage area has been filled. Also avoid leaving piles of leaves other organic material undisturbed for long periods of time.
- Before dangerous times arrive, take time to make sure there are fire extinguishers mounted in critical areas of the home, outbuildings, and all vehicles. Make a list of emergency numbers, such as nearby fire departments, police, and ambulance services which serve your area. Make sure you have water hoses already connected to you supply, and make sure the hoses are long enough to reach around your home and to any outbuildings which may catch fire.
We hope everyone in the valley will be safe during this difficult time and keep yourself as safe as possible. Planning ahead could safe not only your own life, but the lives and homes of the many around you!
Randy Forrester, editor