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Posts Tagged ‘Texas wildfires’

Being Fire Smart in Summer Heat

Friday, July 1st, 2011
fireworks

BE SAFE this summer.

With summer here, thoughts turn to grilled pork chops, fireworks displays and road trips. All are super fun activities. But there are dangers involved with summer fun. Proper fire safety is extremely important in summer, when people spend lots of time outside even as high heat and drought provide fuel for flames.

Carelessness and human activity in the summer is a major contributor to seasonal wildfires. In Texas the wildfire season got started early and has burned three million acres and counting.

For many families, summer is the time to dust off the barbecue. But if used improperly, the grill can turn from friend to foe. Here are some grilling safety tips:

  • Margaritas go good with seared meats. But use care whenever you mix drinking and cooking. You should remain ever mindful of fire-related danger and be careful to exercise common sense.
  • Check gas or propane hoses and connections for cracking or leaks. A new hose and regulator costs around $20 and is not only safer but will produce a better flame.
  • Squirting lighter fluid may be fun. But it’s also inherently dangerous. Consider using a chimney-starter. They will produce hot coals without the nasty chemical taste.
  • Don’t barbecue indoors or in enclosed areas such as patios that have multiple walls and solid roofs. Enclosed fire lead to carbon monoxide gas buildup.
  • Regular cleaning of grease and food particles will reduce the chance of flare ups and charring, which will also make food tastier.

Fire Safety on the Road:

  • Don’t use signal flares to notify others of emergency situations. Flashing emergency LED lights and reflective signage are better choices.
  • Watch the temperature gauge on your car. If it spikes high, you need coolant or should have the vehicle checked by a mechanic.
  • Avoid parking a hot car near dry leaves or pine straw. Overheated cars can ignite surrounding areas.
  • Don’t throw cigarettes out of the window. Just another reason to quit the habit is to eliminate the risk of starting a massive fire!

Fireworks are an integral part of summer celebrations. However, it’s always best to leave the show to professionals. In amateur hands, fireworks are accidents waiting to happen. In fact, in the United States, the CDC reports thousands of fireworks-related ER visits each July. If you insist on launching bottle rockets and lighting sparklers yourself, follow a few simple safety rules:

Firework Safety:

  • Keep young children away from fireworks. They are not coordinated enough to manage sparklers and other fireworks which can cause serious eye injuries.
  • High quality safety goggles can prevent eye damage.
  • Don’t light fireworks indoors or near dry brush.
  • Keep a fire hose or large buckets of water available for emergencies.
  • Don’t shoot the fireworks into the woods. This tip might seem obvious. But if you can’t see where the bottle rockets land, you won’t know for if they landed safely or started a brushfire.
  • To handle the risks of accidental fire, common sense is always the best ally. Be aware of your surroundings and use good judgment so you don’t put yourself and others in danger.

Campfire Safety:

  • Build campfires where they will not spread, away from dry grass and leaves.
  • Keep campfires small so they are less likely to get out of hand.
  • Make sure you have immediate access to emergency water supplies and a shovel to douse flames. Stir the coals to disperse the heat from the coals and then douse it again just to be safe.
  • Don’t ever leave a campfire unattended.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact Allied Universal, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit rjwestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

Managing the Threat During Wildfire Season

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011
wildfire in front of a mountain range

Managing the Threat During Wildfire Season

With average temperatures rising nearly every year, the risk of spring and summer wildfires continues to grow. Already this year, Texas is approaching an annual record for acres burned, with more fires likely to spark. Controlling and stopping wildfires is expensive. A finance officer with the Texas Forest Service reports associated costs of $1 million per day,

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, 71,908 wild land fires in 2010 damaged 3,423,136 acres—an area about six times the size of Rhode Island. Fires wreak havoc not only via flames, but also through harmful particulates in smoke, which are dangerous to people as well as property.

If your commercial or residential property is located near woodlands, you should know that there are steps you can take now that could minimize structural and smoke damage, and maybe even safe a life, should a wildfire break out near your facility:

Clear brush and plant fire-resistant foliage adjacent to your building:

  • A fire that breaks out near your building could potentially spread unless you maintain defensible space.
  • The recommended distance of defensible space varies by the type of wild land vegetation growing near the structure and the steepness of the terrain. But, firefighters suggest a minimum of 30 feet of cleared space around any given structure, since sparks from wildfires can jump a considerable distance.
  • According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, proper clearance to 100 feet dramatically increases the chance of your structure surviving a wildfire. This defensible space also assures safety for firefighters who battle the blaze.

For a list of fire-resistant plants for your neck for the woods, contact the local forestry agency or do a little bit of research online. For example, San Diego County provides a detailed list of fire-resistant plants suitable for Southern California, a website about the Pacific Northwest explains the way to plant trees and bushes in order to Keep Oregon Green, while the Virginia Department of Forestry website lists regional fire-resistant trees and plants.

  • To prevent soil erosion, plants should be trimmed down instead of removed entirely.
  • Avoid planting trees near power lines as high winds might cause a line to break and start a fire.

Structural Challenges:

  • For buildings with cedar shake shingle roofs, consider renovating with asphalt shingles since the newer variety are treated with fire retardant.
  • Install external sprinkler systems which will hydrate nearby plants, making it difficult for flying embers to ignite near your building. If you install such a system, make sure it is properly maintained and frequently tested to be sure it is operational in case of emergency.
  • Ensure debris is moved away from the building. Shipping materials such as wooden pallets can pose a significant risk if exposed to fire.
  • Cover outside ventilation units with wire mesh to prevent floating embers from entering the property.
  • For buildings with patios, utilize only fire-resistant furniture and make sure that gas cooking grills can be stowed away during fire season.
  • Clear leaves and branches from rooftops and gutters.
  • Make sure you’re the fire extinguishers in your building have not expired.

The threat of wildfires exists in all 50 states, unlike other disasters which might occur only in coastal areas or in the Midwest. For this reason, businesses large and small should include wildfire mitigation in their disaster management plans to ensure the safety of both their building and tenants. If we work together, we might just be able to SAVE A LIFE.

Proper planning and learning the “Do’s” are the keys to managing the situation when disasters strike.  For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact Allied Universal, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit rjwestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.