Sipe Steps for Preventing Wildfires
There are no two ways about it – wildfires are devastating. Devastating for local ecosystems, devastating for any nearby settlements and, most importantly, perilous for human life. News cycles the world over have in recent years been filled with reports of wildfires across the globe, leading many to draw conclusions when it comes to the hazardous effects of climate change and its ability to make these fires more common and more likely. Yet although any environmental solutions to the problem probably naturally exist in the long term, preventing wildfires in the here and now is more a matter of fire-tackling infrastructure in at-risk areas, improved methods of firefighting and, despite what many believe, the behaviour of the common citizen in and around these areas.
A Global Hazard
Although wildfires are massive phenomena that cause damage across vast areas, there are actually many things that we can do to prevent them from breaking out in the first place. A very high proportion of wildfires are started by the actions of individual people. All it takes after that is the perfect storm of weather and wind conditions to create a catastrophe of terrifying destructive force. And while you may think that responsibility for preventing wildfires is restricted to those living in or travelling through the wilds of California or the Australian bush, it might come as an unsettling thought to think that they can happen in natural areas almost anywhere in the world. While we are more familiar with news-grabbing wildfires in hot parts of the world, such as the Australian bushfires of 2020, even ‘rainy’ England has seen its fair share of devastating conflagrations, with fires breaking out on Saddleworth Moor in 2019 enveloping the city of Manchester in smoke for several days.
Make no mistake, wildfires can happen almost anywhere there is dry combustible material and a spell of dry weather. They can also happen anywhere human negligence allows them to. For sure, the governments of the world have a big responsibility to prevent and tackle wildfires in the short and long term, but a real difference can be made by individuals taking care in and around these danger areas.
So what can you do to prevent wildfires? The options open to us fall roughly into two categories – good habits that prevent a fire beginning the first place, and the fire-tackling methods that can extinguish a small fire before it spreads. However, bear in mind that should you ever find yourself in the vicinity of wildfire, your personal safety is paramount. Nobody is expecting individual residents and travellers to go around with small fire extinguishers in order to tackle any wildfires they encounter.
Nevertheless, there is a range of tips, good habits, and items of simple common sense that can go a long way to stopping these catastrophes before they even begin. After that, it is down to the professionals.
Simple Tips to Prevent Wildfires
If you find yourself residing in or travelling through any sufficiently expansive natural areas, then there is a small burden of responsibility on you to take care where fire hazards are concerned. We all know the damage wildfires can do, so it pays to know just how to prevent them where you can. Here follows then some helpful tips to follow to ensure you do not become part of the risk.
Report All Unattended Fires
No matter how large or small, an unattended fire is perhaps hazard number one when it comes to wildfires. Of course, you should take the utmost care to ensure you don’t leave any fires unattended yourself, but you should also immediately report any unattended fires you come across. All you need is a mobile phone and the number of the relevant authority wherever you are. Most of the time, this will be the emergency services, but it could also be the park ranger or local forest authority. In any case, solving this problem is only a brief call away – and it could prevent disaster.
Extinguish Fire Pits and Campfires When Done
If you do not follow this simple tip, then you could be responsible for a catastrophe. Campfires are an essential part of the nature trekking experience, and nobody is going to suggest we cease the practice. But leaving a lit fire – of whatever size – is irresponsible and dangerous.
Do not Throw Lit Cigarettes Away
In fact, because the filters of modern cigarettes are not composed of natural material, you shouldn’t even throw extinguished cigarette butts away. But where wildfires are concerned, tossing away lit cigarettes is a major hazard. More hazardous still is to toss them from a moving car as you have no idea where they may land and have no chance to stamp them out with your foot. It is almost a cliché, but the tiniest ember on the end of your cigarette could grow into something catastrophic.
Practice Extreme Caution with Flammable Liquids
Flammable liquids, such as propane for gas stoves and fuel for your vehicle, are pretty much essential for real off-road travelling, but they pose an extreme danger. When refilling devices that use flammable liquids, be sure to allow them to completely cool before doing so. And take care not to spill any significant amounts of these liquids on the ground as they could later provide the accelerant the wildfire needs to really get going.
When Rubbish Burning, Respect Local Rules
This one applies to those residents who live in rural areas or close to areas of moor or forest where a fire could potentially break out. Most areas have restrictions for rubbish burning –such as prohibiting it when its windy – and for very good reason. Such regulations are, in most cases, well thought out and tested so, as long as your respect them, you should be safe in burning your rubbish. Just make sure that all flames are extinguished before you finish.
Only Use Fireworks in Clear Areas
There are a few dates in the calendar that call for a dazzling firework display in the way of celebration. Nevertheless, you should be sure only to use fireworks in clear areas with no woodland or shrubbery nearby. The reason for this should be fairly obvious.
Ultimately, wildfires are (usually) defeated in the end, but not before a great deal of damage and, in many tragic cases, loss of human life. It also requires a great deal of money and resources to extinguish a wildfire of any considerable size. Preventing them from breaking out in the first place, on the other hand, is free.
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