Fire Prevention During Times of Drought
Richmond, VA – This summer the weather in Virginia has been unusually hot and dry. Some localities have had their warmest summer on record. Most of Virginia is now suffering from moderate to severe drought. These conditions bring a greatly increased risk of wildfires.
Until we get significant rainfall, it is also important that residents work to reduce water usage. The Virginia Department of Emergency Services has issued several recommendations to help localities deal with these problems. It is especially important that citizens observe outdoor burn bans, if present in their locality. The primary wildfire season in Virginia is October 15 to November 30. To find out if your locality has a burn ban in place call your local fire department or sheriff’s office.
How can you help reduce the risk of wildfires and protect your property? Prune branches at least 15 feet back from chimneys and stove pipes. Be extra careful when grilling outdoors. Clear leaves and other flammable materials from under decks and porches. Stack firewood 100 feet away and uphill from any structure.
Use fire-resistant materials when building or renovating. Use non-combustible materials for roofs, which are especially vulnerable in a wildfire. Keep matches and lighters up high in a locked cabinet away from children and keep fire extinguishers in your house and other buildings. Your local fire department will usually inspect your property for fire safety and prevention if you make a request.
In addition to fire safety, try to reduce water usage to help your local water system cope with the drought. Never pour water down the drain when there may be another use for it such as watering plants or gardens. Repair dripping faucets – one drop per second wastes 2,700 gallons of water per year.
Take short showers and limit the number of baths. Use washing machines and dish washers only when fully loaded. Use a pan to wash vegetables and dishes instead of letting water run continuously. A family can save 14 gallons per day by not letting water run while brushing teeth, washing hands or shaving.
So be safe, not sorry during this wildfire season and try to help your locality get through the drought.