May is Wildfire Awareness Month

Wildfires are a natural occurrence, but humans have changed the way that we steward and coexist with fire in our landscapes. The governors of California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, North and South Dakota, Oregon, Utah, and Washington have signed a proclamation recognizing May 2019 as Wildfire Awareness Month. The chief executives of these western states encourage all citizens to “take steps to better prepare their home and communities for wildfires and work toward becoming a fire-adapted community.” This May, become more aware of how you, your family, or your workplace can better prepare for high intensity wildfires and smoke from planned and unplanned fires, prevent unwanted human ignitions, and take action to live with wildfire in your community!

Will you clean needles form your gutters, pack an evacuation bag, or take other home preparedness actions? Will you prepare your business or place of work with; off-site backup documents and an insurance inventory, an evacuation plan or drill, fire prevention messaging, or work with your chamber on how you’ll let your community and visitors know that you’re open for business even if it’s smoky? What can you do to understand and reduce wildfire risk and potential impacts to you and your community this May?

To get an early start on Wildfire Awareness Month, join your neighbors in reducing your community’s wildfire risk by taking part in National Wildfire Community Preparedness Day on Saturday, May 4. The National Fire Protection Association has teamed up with State Farm Insurance to encourage residents to commit a couple of hours, or the entire day, to raising wildfire awareness and working on projects that can protect homes and entire communities from the threat of fire. You can get resources, inspiration, or locate a project near you on the map at: https://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/Campaigns/National-Wildfire-Community-Preparedness-Day.

Even in areas wet by good winters and spring rains, unplanned wildfires will continue to occur this year as fine grasses, forbs, shrubs, and leaf litter quickly dry out. Be especially aware on warm, dry and windy days.  You should also expect trained wildfire management organizations to take advantage of safe opportunities to re-introduce fire into fire dependent landscapes both out in our forests and grasslands and near communities this spring and early summer.  Oregonians have compiled some excellent resources on minimizing smoke impacts to your health: http://www.centraloregonfire.org/wildfire-smoke-your-health/minimizing-smoke-impacts-to-your-health/.

For more information on wildfire prevention, how to create defensible space to protect lives and property, log onto: https://csfs.colostate.edu/wildfire-mitigation/or www.firewise.org or contact a local wildfire professional for locally specific support. Find them on the map at https://fireadaptednetwork.org/connect/. For more information on preparing to evacuate yourself and your family safely, visit https://www.ready.gov/ or www.wildlandfirersg.org.

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