Officials Say Get Ready NOW May is Wildfire Awareness Month
Temperatures are slowing increasing in the Yakima Valley and that means weeds and grasses are drying and becoming potential fuel for wildfire. This is Wildfire Awareness month in the state of Washington. Officials from the Washington State Fire Marshal’s Office joins fire agencies around the state in recognizing the importance of being prepared for wildfire season. They say 2020 was a rough year for wildland firefighters. More than 1,500 wildfires were reported in the state. The fires burned more than 823,000 acres according to the Northwest Coordination Center.
A press release says the National Interagency Fire Center predicts a significant potential for wildfires in Washington again this year, due to warmer and dryer conditions anticipated throughout the spring and summer.
If you live in an area that's prone to wildfire officials say this is the month to get prepared. State officials have some suggestions that could save properties and lives.
Residents are urged to prepare your property now to reduce the chance of embers and flames igniting material on or near your home.
· Clear fallen leaves, pine needles, branches, and other debris from roof valleys and gutters. Be sure to use extra caution when working on ladders.
· Remove any flammable materials on the ground around your home, deck, porch, or patio out to a minimum of 5 feet. This includes mulch, dead leaves or pine needles, shrubs or other plants, wood piles, and material for construction projects.
· Plants that are within 30 feet of your home should be well-watered and spaced to avoid fire moving from plant to plant. Also remove any dead vegetation on or around landscaping.
· Grass and weeds should be mowed to a height no more than 2 to 3 inches.
· When doing home improvements, use fire-resistant materials whenever possible.
· Attic and garage vents should be screened with 1/8-inch metal mesh material, or a fire resistive vent design should be used, to prevent ember penetration during the windy conditions of a wildfire.
· Work with neighbors to prepare your community. If one home within a neighborhood ignites, this presents a severe threat to the neighboring homes. Encourage all neighbors within a wildfire risk area to work together to reduce the community risk.
During wildfire season, stay aware of local fire conditions and be ready to leave at a moment’s notice.
· Prepare an evacuation plan, including alternate routes out of the area, and prepacked essentials including: medications, family records, credit cards, a change of clothing, and enough food and water for each household member for up to 72 hours.
· Create a family communication plan that designates an out-of-area friend or relative as a point of contact to be a single source of communication among family members in case of separation.
· Be aware of family, friends, or neighbors who have disabilities who require assistance and additional lead-time in order to prepare for a disaster.
· Remember to prepare a plan for pets and other animals.
· If there is a wildfire alert system available in your area, consider signing up to receive notifications.
· When told to evacuate, go promptly. If you feel unsafe, do not wait for an evacuation order -leave immediately. Do not return home until directed by emergency personnel.