Editorial: Practical tips for keeping your wooded-setting home protected

Apr. 21, 2013 @ 11:43 PM

Sevier County residents like to live in woodland settings, especially in an area so filled with mountains. They can enjoy the beauty of the surroundings. However, they also realize they face the danger of wildfire. Sevier County knows this very well. Dozens of cabins were destroyed by a wildfire not long ago, and cabins in our area are at risk.

“Wildfires often begin unnoticed,” State Fire Marshal Julie Mix McPeak said. “They spread quickly, igniting brush, trees and homes. Reduce your risk by preparing now, before a wildfire starts. Meet with your family to decide what to do and where to go if wildfires threaten your area.”

Follow the U.S. Fire Administration’s steps listed below to protect your family, home, and property.

  • Conduct outdoor burning safely and legally, being sure to secure the appropriate permits. For more information on that, read http://1.usa.gov/16PG719.
  • Make sure that fire vehicles can reach your home. Clearly mark all driveway entrances and display your name and address. Ensure adequate accessibility by large fire vehicles to your property.
  • Report hazardous conditions that could cause a wildfire.
  • Teach children about fire safety. Instill in them that fire is a tool for adults, not a toy. Keep matches and lighters out of their reach.
  • Post fire emergency telephone numbers.
  • Plan several escape routes away from your home – by car and by foot.
  • Talk to your neighbors about wildfire safety. Consider how you could help neighbors — such as elderly or disabled persons — who have special needs. Make plans to take care of children who might be on their own if parents can’t get home.
  • Create a 30-to-100-foot safety zone around your home.
  • Rake and remove leaves, dead limbs and rubbish from around and under structures in this zone and clear all flammable vegetation.
  • Prune tree branches and shrubs within 15 feet of a stovepipe or chimney outlet.
  • Ask the power company to clear branches from power lines.
  • Store gasoline, oily rags and other flammable materials in approved safety cans. Place cans in a safe location away from the base of buildings.
  • Identify and maintain an adequate outside water source such as a small pond, cistern, well, swimming pool or hydrant.

For a complete list on how to prepare your home for wildfire, visit www.firewise.org.To learn more about the proper procedures for outdoor burning in your area, visit www.BurnSafeTN.org.