When a downed power line ignited the drought-parched forest floor on April 16, 2007, it led to the largest and most devastating wildfires in state history. Nearly 564,000 acres were consumed in Georgia and Florida, and 18 homes were destroyed. More than 3,300 firefighters from 44 states, Canada and Puerto Rico battled the blazes.
More and more people are making their homes in wooded settings near forests and remote mountain sites. There, homeowners enjoy the beauty of the environment but face the very real danger of wildfires. They spread quickly and change direction rapidly, igniting brush, trees, and homes.
Prepare for Wildfire
- Learn and teach safe fire practices.
- Learn your risk. Learn about the history of wildfires in your area.
- Be aware of recent weather. A long period without rain increases the risk of wildfire.
- Design and landscape your home with wildfire safety in mind and create a 30- to 100-foot safety zone around your home by keeping flammable vegetation in this area to a minimum.
- Use fire-resistant materials when building, renovating, or retrofitting structures.
- Remove tree limbs within 15 feet of the ground.
- Thin a 15-foot space between tree crowns.
- Remove debris from under-sun decks and porches.
- Install spark arrestors in chimneys and stovepipes.
- Identify and maintain an adequate outside water source, such as a small pond.
- Visit the Georgia Forestry Commission’s Web site at gatrees.org.
Make a Plan
- Get a disaster supplies kit and prepare a portable Ready kit in case you have to evacuate.
- Plan several escape routes away from your home, by car and by foot.
- Keep handy household items that can be used as fire tools: A rake, axe, handsaw or chainsaw, bucket, and shovel.
- Remember, you cannot outrun a wildfire. If you are caught by the fire, crouch in a pond or river and cover your head and upper body with wet clothing. If water is not available, look for shelter in a cleared area or among a bed of rocks. Breathe the air closest to the ground.
- Monitor radio, NOAA Weather Radio, or television for the latest updates
- Follow the instructions of local officials. If advised to evacuate, do so immediately.