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    10 Ways to Prevent Forest Fires

    by Meaghan Weeden May 14, 2024 3 min read

    how to prevent forest fires
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    If you are wondering why wildfires are getting worse, the answer might come as a surprise: although science shows that climate change is a threat multiplier that increases fire frequency and intensity, people also play a role. Nearly 85% of forest fires in the United States are caused by human activities — and many are preventable. 

    While you may have heard about the gender reveal party that sparked the deadly El Dorado fire, many  everyday activities can ignite a blaze, too. A warming climate, a history of fire suppression, and other factors mean that fires are, unfortunately, only getting worse. But if you reside in an area that is prone to drought or forest fires, you can help prevent natural disasters by following simple fire safety guidelines. 

    How to Prevent Forest Fires

    1. Don’t Set Off Pyrotechnics

    We get it: fireworks are as American as baseball and apple pie, and they sure are fun to set off. And gender reveal smoke bombs are all the rage — but in a hot and dry environment, they just aren’t worth the risk.

    2. Carefully dispose of smoking materials

    Whenever you smoke, douse your butts with water and place them in a fire-proof container to safely dispose of after you’re sure they’ve gone out. And whatever you do, don’t toss them on the ground.

    3. Maintain Personal Fires Responsibly

    Before you light a campfire or bonfire, make sure the conditions are safe and that there isn’t a fire ban where you are. When you’re done, douse the fire and wait until it’s completely cold to the touch before leaving your campsite. Never leave a fire unattended.

    4. Mow the lawn before 10am

    If you need to mow your lawn, the California Wildland Fire Coordinating Group recommends doing it early, before temperatures peak. But if it’s excessively windy and dry, wait until another day. In these conditions, the metal blades underneath your mower can easily spark a fire if they strike a rock.

    5. Make sure your car's exhaust is up to par

    Check the exhaust of your vehicle, chainsaw, leaf blower, etc. to make sure they're equipped with spark arrestors, which prevent engines from emitting flammable debris. And keep in mind that your exhaust can reach temperatures exceeding 1,000 degrees!

    6. Stay on the road

    Off-roading is a blast, but it can have deadly consequences if done in grasslands or areas with heavy brush. Stick to gravel and asphalt, especially during dry seasons. In fact, the best time to off-road in fire-prone areas may be when the ground is saturated with rain or covered in snow.

    7. Keep a close eye on candles

    Innocent though they may seem, candles are a leading cause of home fires. In fact, their flames can burn as hot as 1,400+ degrees! Your best bet? Place them into sturdy containers that can’t be knocked over, like mason jars. And never leave them unattended.

    8. Create and maintain defensible space

    If you own your home, clear away any dead trees, brush, and vegetation within 100 ft. of all structures. This helps slow and/or stop the spread of wildfires within your community. It will also protect firefighters in the event that they need to battle a blaze around your home.

    9. Landscape for fire resistance

    While you're at it, incorporate fire-resistant plants like french lavender, sage, and California fuchsia — and fire-retardant species like aloe, rockrose, and ice plant into your landscaping. Take it a step further by building fire-resistant zones with stone walls, patios, decks, etc. 

    10. Support forest fire restoration

    And finally, supporting forest fire restoration in areas that have experienced fires in the past is an important way to reduce the likelihood or severity of future fires. These projects, which are undertaken by conservation professionals, involve planting species that are native and fire-resistant.

    Around the world, forest fires are growing in size, severity, range and frequency. Fueled by climate change, historic landscape management, and more, they aren't going away anytime soon. But neither are we. Once fires have been put out and experts have assessed the damage, we work with our partners around the world to restore ecosystems that have been affected by blazes. 

    Want to learn more about what we’re doing to help forests recover? Check out our forest fires recovery tree planting project.

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    Meaghan Weeden
    Meaghan Weeden

    Meaghan works to share our story far and wide, manages our blog calendar, coordinates with the team on projects + campaigns, and ensures our brand voice is reflected across channels. With a background in communications and an education in environmental conservation, she is passionate about leveraging her creativity to help the environment!