WHAT IS WILDFIRE COMMUNITY PREPAREDNESS DAY?
Wildfire Community Preparedness Day is a national campaign that encourages people and organizations everywhere to come together on a single day to take action to raise awareness and reduce wildfire risks. It is held in the United States and Canada on the first Saturday in May. Given that in-person gatherings are limited or on-hold in many places, this year’s Prep Day is focused on what residents can do on and around their home to help protect against the threat of wildfires.
The idea for the day came from a survey asking middle school students in Texas and Colorado about how they wanted to learn about wildfire. They wanted to be a part of some-thing that was making a difference by improving wildfire safety where they lived. When the program was piloted in 2013 in Colorado, both students and adults were eager to be a part of a day to raise awareness about wildfire safety involving hands-on risk reduction activities. Wildfire Community Preparedness Day is now celebrated across the nation.
WHO SUPPORTS THIS EFFORT?
The National Fire Protection Association® (NFPA®), a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping save lives and reduce loss from fire and electrical hazards, manages Prep Day. State Farm provides generous financial support with 150 project awards. Many national organizations help promote Wildfire Community Preparedness Day, including FEMA, U.S. Fire Administration, NOAA, the Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network, Fire Safe Councils, the National Association of State Foresters, and the American Red Cross.
MAKE A DIFFERENCE THAT MATTERS!
You can help promote wildfire protection by participating in risk reduction projects on your property on or before the 1st of May. Studies show that measures taken at the home and in the area within 100 feet of it, known as the Home Ignition Zone (HIZ), have a significant impact on minimizing damage and loss. Something as simple as clearing the immediate 5-foot zone around the home can assist in making a huge difference in avoiding a catastrophe.
Defending the Home Ignition Zone (HIZ)
Research shows there are proven methods for preparing properties for withstanding the devastating impacts of a wildfire. This Prep Day, you have the power to protect the part of the community that means the most to you and your family by eliminating vulnerabilities in the HIZ, particularly the immediate 5-foot zone around your residence. Whether it’s replacing wood chips with gravel or reimagining your entire landscape design, what you do on Saturday, May 1, really matters. Be ready to make a difference in helping to avoid loss and tragedy with information and resources from NFPA®.
• Can you see your home’s address number from the street? How about your neighbors’? If not, trim overgrown vegetation covering or blocking the numbers on your homes in case firefighters need to find you.
• Locate two alternate routes out of your neighborhood (besides the one normally used) and plan and practice a family evacuation drill using those alternate routes.
• Measure how close wood piles are located to the home. If any are closer than 30 feet, move them farther away from structures. Screen or box-in areas below patios and decks with wire screening no larger than 1/8-inch mesh to help keep embers out during a wildfire.
- Rake and remove pine needles and dry leaves to a minimum of 3 to 5 feet from a home’s foundation. Over time, continue up to a 30-foot distance around the home. Dispose of collected debris in appropriate trash receptacles.
- Sweep porches and decks, clearing them of leaves and pine needles. Rake under decks, porches, sheds, and play structures.
- On mature trees, use hand pruners and loppers to remove low-hanging tree branches up to a height of 4 feet from the ground (specific height depends on the type and size of tree). Collect downed tree limbs and broken branches and take them to a disposal site.
- Remove items stored under decks and porches and relocate them to a storage area. Gasoline cans and portable propane tanks should never be stored indoors or near the home.
• Create a family communication plan and build or update a 72- hour evacuation kit for you, your family, and your pets.