More than 65,000 wildfires burned 5.4 million acres of land in the United States in 2016, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information. The worst part? Many of these disasters could have been prevented.
Although some wildfires are caused by lightning, approximately 90 percent are caused by human error. Many times, wildfires occur when campfires are left unattended, debris is burned improperly or cigarettes are carelessly discarded. Such fires can grow rapidly out of control.
Here are a few tips to help campers and outdoor enthusiasts enjoy the sights of nature without causing a wildfire.
- Never leave a fire unattended, and make sure you completely extinguish the fire when you’re done. Completely drench the fire with water and stir the ashes until they’re cold.
- Play it safe when using fueled lanterns, heaters and stoves. Lighting and heating devices should be cool before you refuel them. Keep flammable liquids and fuel away from appliances.
- Never discard cigarettes, matches or smoking materials from moving vehicles, or anywhere on park grounds. Completely extinguish cigarettes before disposing of them in an appropriate trash receptacle.
- When burning yard waste, obey local ordinances. Avoid burning in windy conditions, and keep a shovel, water and fire retardant nearby to keep fires in check.
- If you see a wildfire and haven’t received evacuation orders yet, call 911. Don’t assume that someone else has already called.
- If you find yourself in the path of a wildfire, evacuate immediately. Listen to local emergency notifications for the most up-to-date information. Better yet, make a wildfire plan for yourself and your family before a fire occurs.
Visit ready.gov/wildfires for more information about wildfire safety.