Texans may face severe danger of wildfire during periods of drought and high winds. The Texas AgriLife Extension Service is joining the Texas Forest Service in an effort to educate the public about the threat of wildfires. Following are recommendations from those agencies on wildfire prevention and precautions in case fires erupt.
Wildlife danger and outdoor activities
Be extremely cautious about any outdoor activities that might cause sparks or fires. Sparks can easily escape from burning trash. Avoid use of welding or grinding equipment near weeds and grass. Avoid parking vehicles in tall, dry grass and weeds that could be ignited by hot catalytic converters. When in your vehicle, crush smoking materials in your ashtray and make sure they are out.
Don't drive into smoke on the road
Monitor TV and radio broadcasts before you get on the highway and check fire and weather conditions as you travel. Watch for highway signs, traffic control personnel and fire fighters. Slow down and be prepared to stop if they signal you to do so. If you see dense smoke on the road, do not drive into it. Slow down, prepare to stop and turn around. Activate your emergency flashers to warn vehicles behind you. Check for oncoming traffic and make sure you can turn around safely.
Wildfires and evacuations
Wildfires propelled by strong winds can move as fast as 60 miles per hour. When told to evacuate — leave the area immediately. Choose a route that leads away from the fire. Stay alert to changes in the speed and direction of fire and smoke. If you have time, shut gas off at the meter and turn off propane tanks. Wet down your roof and shrubbery within 15 feet of your residence. Park your vehicle facing in the direction of escape.
Wildfire danger to rural homes and suburbs
Whether you live in a rural or suburban area, you can protect your home from the dangers of wildfire. Protect your property by clearing brush and grass away from your home and buildings. Clear brush from areas between the trees. Prune lower branches. Make sure areas under utility lines are clear of brush, tall grass and trees so that utility service will continue. Create a firebreak by clearing vegetation from areas between your house and nearby fields or grassland areas.
Wildfire tips for farm and ranch
Find out if your county has a burn ban prohibiting fires out of doors. Consider postponing outdoor burning as long as brush and foliage remain dry. Keep a fire extinguisher and water handy when working outdoors with equipment that gets hot. If possible, wet down outdoor work areas in advance. Keep mufflers and spark arresters on agricultural equipment in good working order. When baling hay, check for hot bearings or hay caught in rollers.