As you have heard, drought and wildfires are at record levels again this year in the West and for those of us living here.
Many enjoy the rural lifestyle. Fire officials say some of those homes, those on forests’ edges, are more susceptible to wildfire dangers.
Here’s what you can do to protect your property during fire seasons:
• Make friends with the local fire department by supporting bond levies and making sure they know your last name and home location. The men and women at the fire department leave their families at home so they can respond to emergencies in our communities.
Be thankful, and help them do their jobs by being proactive.
• Build a defensible space around your home, also called “lean and green.” Keep the grass cut. Stack firewood away from your home. Make your deck out of concrete and not wood. Cut back the “ladder fuels,” such as those shrubberies that climb trees and into their crowns.
An ember field moves ahead of the actual fire, dropping burning ash to the ground, so you don’t want flammable roofing, porches or tall grass around your building.
Think like a hot ember and remove those things that can easily catch fire from burning debris floating down from the sky.
• Know your neighbors. Know who has a tractor, a backhoe or other machinery in case a quick “dozer path” is needed to protect your home.
• Help your neighbors. Does someone need assistance mowing their grass, trimming the lower limbs of a tree or removing brush and shrubbery?
• Plan ahead. If you have a neighborhood group, a homeowners association or are in charge of bringing speakers to your club, invite an expert to speak.
Are there two routes out of the area, in case one is blocked by fire or firefighting equipment? Are vacant, overgrown lots causing a fire danger? Do you have water supplies necessary for firefighting equipment? Does a trusted neighbor have a key to your home should disaster hit while you are out of town?
• Trim, cut and plant smart. Those small fires that get away from us have a fuel source they can climb into. It could be low-hanging branches on a tree.
From which direction does the summer wind blow? That is the most likely the direction of any approaching threat to your home.
• Cut your vacant lot in May and then again in July. You’ll reduce your fire danger.
This is how we all stay well!
Andrew May is a freelance writer and ornamental horticulturist who dreams of having Clallam and Jefferson counties nationally recognized as “Flower Peninsula USA.” Send him questions c/o Peninsula Daily News, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362, or email [email protected] (subject line: Andrew May).