We on the West Coast have had firsthand experience of how dangerous, destructive, and problematic wildfires can be. From burning down buildings to spreading smoke in the air, wildfires burn an average of 7,400,000 acres and kill 3,700 people a year. And this is only in the United States! Nobody wants these things to happen! And yet, what is the main cause of wildfires? Us. 9 out of 10 wildfires are caused by humans, that’s 90%! If we humans were to be 30% safer and stop 30% more fires from starting, that would result in 2,220,000 fewer acres burned and 1,110 lives saved! So, why don’t we learn how to prevent man-made wildfires?
Let’s start with one of the biggest and most pressing problems, burning debris. I know you don’t want to haul all your leaves and sticks and yard trimmings and trash alllll the way over to the dumpster, and burning them seems like an easy solution, but you’re wrong. When burning items, embers created during the burning process can be carried by the wind. In these current dry, windy conditions, one ember could spark an entire forest fire. So? A solution? Well, the first thing you should do is check with your local municipality because they may have regulations concerning yard waste and waste in general. If, and ONLY IF, there are no other alternatives but to burn your waste, burn it in small, easier to control batches. Furthermore, you should never burn your trash in conditions with high winds, extremely hot or dry temperatures, and NEVER leave a trash pile unattended.
Another big contributor to starting man-made wildfires is also bad for your lungs and body in general. That’s right, cigarettes. A surprising number of people just throw their cigarettes on the ground or dispose of them incorrectly. Remember, cigarettes are considered fire-starters. Embers from your cigarette can spread in the wind or catch on to nearby vegetation and spark a wildfire. There are a surprising number of things wrong with throwing your cigarettes on the ground. First, that’s considered littering and is punishable by the law. Second of all, smoking cigarettes is extremely bad for your health and can even cause cancer. Smoking is considered the #1 preventable cause of death, and in this case, I consider it the #1 preventable cause of wildfire. Thirdly, if you disposed of a cigarette incorrectly, it would endanger many more people, animals, and plants than if you disposed of it in the right way. In order to prevent wildfires, you should dispose of your cigarettes in a place where it can’t be a source of ignition, such as an ashtray. Another good idea is to place your cigarette in a cup of water after using it. But the best idea is to stop smoking, not only to benefit your health but to stop wildfires too!
Finally, the last big factor in man-made wildfires is fireworks. The fireworks you use at home seem harmless when you use them, right? They just explode and create a few sparks, right? But the thing is, these sparks are the dangerous part. As I explained before, these sparks can be carried by the wind and cause fires. Fireworks are illegal in certain parts of certain states, and you should check your local laws to make sure that the fireworks you are using are legal. Fireworks marked “Safe and Sane” are deemed safe to use in most places. In order to minimize wildfire risk from fireworks, detonate your fireworks in areas away from dry vegetation and avoid using fireworks during high winds.
Overall, in order to prevent man-made wildfires, you should follow these guidelines: Never burn fires in conditions with high winds and/or dry vegetation, always dispose of objects considered to be fire-starters properly, and be cautious about embers and fire in general. If you follow these guidelines and suggestions, so many people and so much property can be saved.