Massive wildfires in Texas, Arizona and New Mexico during the summer of 2011 have highlighted the fact that summer heat brings summer wildfires. Why is summer fire season though? The best answer is that fire loves heat. In summer a glass pane leaning against a wooden fence becomes a magnifying glass. A lightening strike on dry weeds is explosive. Dry twigs become tinder when the summer heat dries them and heats them. The hotter an object is to begin with, the more quickly it will catch fire.
You can’t stop the summer heat, but you can protect your property from most wildfire risks by it by clearing your property of items that reflect or magnify heat, removing potential fuel sources, and creating fire breaks. Cut weeds and tall grass, clear out old leaves and fallen branches, trim trees away from power lines, and get rid of things that would allow fire to travel more quickly. Cover up or store things that would reflect and thus increase fire risk.
As humans engage in more outdoor activities in the summer the risk of wildfires grows. Some activities are not as obvious as others though. Most individuals are aware that the use of fireworks can result in a fire. Most are not aware that a powered lawn edger or any power tool can be just as dangerous during a summer drought. An edger’s blade coming in contact with the edge of a sidewalk can create sparks that set your lawn on fire. When possible limit any power tool or powered-lawn work to a time of day when the temperature is lower and choose your location wisely. Be aware of where sparks are most likely to create fires, as well of what objects might allow a fire to spread more quickly and take reasonable precautions. Keep a fire extinguisher or buckets of sand nearby. Don’t rely on your water hose, especially if you’re working with power tools.
Travelers are another reason summer is more flammable. A poorly maintained automobile has started many a wildfire. Practice safe auto maintenance before a road trip. Check your tires and tire pressure, your coolant levels and your oil before setting out. Keep a small portable fire extinguisher handy. If you blow a tire, pull over. Don’t try to drive on your rim. Firefighters believe that one of the Texas wildfires was caused by sparks from a truck driving on a rim. If you need to stop on the road try to find a paved area to pull onto instead of dry grass or a field. A hot catalytic converter can ignite dry vegetation.
Summer cookouts also increase the danger of wildfires. Barbeque grills should not be located near buildings or low trees, and they should not b allowed to burn too high. Set up in a location where a spill is less likely to cause a wildfire. Avoid cooking out days of high wind. Campfires should be built in pits if possible. Keep sand and water, or fire extinguishers nearby. Bury a camp fire in dirt or sand, and never assume that if the embers look dead that they really are.
Summer shouldn’t be feared, but it should be respected. An awareness of the fact that summer heat increases summer fire risk can prevent most wildfires. Plan ahead with fire prevention in mind and you should enjoy a safe summer.