* Create a safety zone around your home of at least 30 feet.
* Remove debris such as leaves and rubbish from under and around structures.
* Remove dead branches from trees.
* Prune branches or shrubs within 15 feet of stovepipes or chimney outlets.
* Remove vines from the sides of your home.
* Store gasoline, oily rags, and other flammable materials in safety cans away from the base of structures in a safe spot.
* Stack firewood at least 10 feet away from the home; clear all combustible materials within 20 feet away.
* Identify outside water sources in your area and maintain them. These can be small ponds, a cistern, a well, a swimming pool or fire hydrants.
* Make sure you have a long enough garden hose that reaches your home and any other structures on your property.
WHEN WILDFIRE THREATENS:
* Listen to a battery-operated radio for reports and evacuation information.
* Back your car into the garage or park it in the open facing the direction of escape. Shut doors, roll up windows.
* Confine pets to one room and ensure you have plans to carry pets in case you must evacuate.
* Have a plan on where you will stay if you must evacuate.
* If you are told to evacuate, do it immediately.
* Wear sturdy shoes, cotton or woolen clothing, long pants, long-sleeved shirt, gloves, and a handkerchief to protect your face.
* Lock your home.
* Tell someone when you left and where you are going.
* Choose a route away from fire hazards and watch for changes in speed and direction of smoke and fire.
— Courtesy of the Florida Division of Forestry
Arson is one of the major causes of wildfires. Keep an eye out for suspicious behavior regarding fire.
If your yard is overgrown, the Florida Division of Forestry’s mitigation program will mow, burn or chop vegetation back from dwellings one time only for free.
If you are extremely sensitive to smoke, contact the Division of Forestry to mark your house as smoke sensitive. Smoke from prescribed burns are monitored to avoid sensitive areas including nursing homes and neighborhoods.
Respiratory therapist Sharon Denny suggests wearing a mask and staying indoors with the air conditioning on when fires cause smoky conditions.
For more information on wildfires and prevention visit the Division of Forestry Web site at http://fl-doh.com or contact the agency at 488-1871 or 912-5255. Visit the Florida Division of Emergency Management’s site at http://floridadisaster.org.