As the statewide drought continues, the number of fires across Texas grow. Over 1000 homes have been destroyed by fire this year. An estimated 90 percent of all Texas wildfires are caused by human activity as reported by Texas Department of Public Safety.
Last year my neighbor's house burned to the ground and I have seen first hand how fast a fire can travel. A fireman told me a fire triples in size every second. I believed him by just seeing how fast my neighbor's fire raced across her home. (Luckily she was not injured.)
To help prevent fires : (please forward this to anyone who needs it)
- Avoid burning trash. The greatest single cause of fires this year is when burning debris is not properly contained and sparks or burning trash blow into the air.
- If you smoke, please extinguish cigarettes in a wet nonflammable container. Never toss a cigarette out of a car window and don't put cigarettes out on the ground. Never leave a cigarette or candle unattended.
- Keep a fire extinguisher and water handy when working outdoors with equipment that gets hot or involves sparks such as welding equipment. Water down outdoor work areas in advance if possible
- Never grill under an underhang or ceilling that can ignite. The grill should be at least 15 feet away from any structure. Soak grill or fireplace ashes in water for a day before disposing of them. You'd be surprised how many fires start this way.
- Keep trees and shrubs pruned so vegetation is away from buildings. Remove dead vegatation and dispose of rubbish and debris.
- Have enough garden hose to reach all of the structures on your property.
- Stack firewood well away from your home and if possible uphill of it.
- As vehicle exhaust systems are often hot enough to ignite a fire, don't drive or park on high grass that is dry.
- If you live on acreage, create a 30 foot safety zone around your home. A safety zone is one where there is little or minimal vegetation. Keep grass low if any.
If you think a fire is coming your way:
- Evacuate and get to safety.
- Start a water sprinkler on your roof. Embers and flaming debris can travel great distances land on your roof and start a new fire.
- Clear gutters of leaves and debris.
- Start watering the areas around your home.
- Prepare for water storage; develop an external water supply such as a small pond well or pool.
- Turn off your gas lines. Shut off any natural gas, propane or fuel oil supplies at the source.
- Place your car in the driveout position and roll up windows.
- Disconnect automatic garage door openers so the doors can be opened by hand if the power goes out.
Stay Safe! Have a safety kit always with your medications and other essentials if you need to leave quickly.