Baby, Don’t You Light My Fire

This weekend I attended a Fire Safety training session at a local Red Cross Chapter, where I learned how to “Be Cool About Fire Safety”, and how educating children about fire hazards not only protects children’s lives, but also their parents. After the session, my mind wandered from house fires, to the just as dangerous and destructive wildfires. My immediate knowledge of wildfires was limited to the devastating wildfires in California and Smokey the Bear, so I decided I should probably go online and do some research on wildfires myself.

In 2009 (the most recent statistic I could find), the United States Fire Association estimates 78,792 wildfires consumed 5,921, 786 acres. 90% of wild land fires are caused by humans. (e.g. unattended campfires and burning debris, cigarettes, intentional arson). The remaining 10% are naturally started by lightening or lava. Wild land fires put both human and animal lives at risk, pose a significant threat to property, and can negatively affect air quality.

Wildfires are destructive but in many cases can also be essential. According to the National Park Service, scientists have found that 33 native plant species in Everglades National Park depend on fire for long-term survival. Depending on the ecosystem, natural wildfires serve different purposes. In some case fires are actually prescribed by the Parks Service.

Whether you live in an area at risk for wildfires, or are just visiting a park, it is important to be mindful of wildfires. It is important to pay attention to the National Fire Danger Rating System, which calculates wildfire risk based on environmental factors such as humidity, drought, and fuel moisture. Below are useful links relating to wildfire prevention.  And Remember…. Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires!

Smokey the Bear’s History

Be Smart Outdoors Tips

Live Map of Wildfires in the United States

National Interagency Fire Center’s Tips for Protecting Your Home from Wildfire

The National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) Fire Wise Communities Program

Forest Fire Via Shutterstock

by Maddie Perlman-Gabel

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