News-Sun file photo Wildfire danger is higher in the winter, when low humidity and little rainfall makes brush easier to set on fire.
published: Friday, November 23, 2012
Be aware of holiday wildfire safety all winter long
Special to the News-Sun
Holiday wildfire safety begins the first day as your family searches for the perfect Christmas tree Holiday wildfire safety ends with the carefully planned disposal of the tree at the end of the holiday season.
Christmas tree fires are more likely to cause a house fire; a wildfire can result from the flames. Richie Bamlet, senior forester and certified arborist with the Florida Forest Service, wants to provide families with a few tips on protecting yourself, your home and your property. One of the first things you can do to prevent Christmas tree fires is to pick the right tree.
"When choosing a Christmas tree, it is important to buy a fresh tree," Bamlet said. "Cut an inch off the bottom or ask the vendor to do it for you. This new cut will allow water to be taken up. Put your tree in water as soon as you get home and be sure to top-up daily. A fresh tree will drink about a pint a day for the first couple of days. "
However, do not think the danger ends just because the holidays are over and the tree is down. According to Melissa Yunas, wildfire mitigation specialist, Florida Forest Service "Get to know the burn laws in your area before your strike that match. It is unsafe and illegal to burn wrapping paper and gift boxes. Consider recycling instead of burning your Christmas trees in order to reduce the chances of sparking a wildfire." Christmas trees may be ground up for mulch or used to help stabilize sand dunes, build structure for fish in a lake or pond or provide shelter for birds and other wildlife. Contact your local Solid Waste Authority for recycling information.
If you decide to burn your Christmas tree, here are a few outdoor burning tips:
-- Never leave a fire unattended, and make sure it is out before you leave
-- Keep a shovel and water hose handy
-- Don't burn on windy days or when the humidity is below 35 percent
-- Your fire must be contained to an 8 foot diameter pile or non-combustible barrel and must be at least 25 feet from forests, 25 feet from your house, 50 feet from a paved public road and 150 feet from other occupied buildings
-- If your fire escapes, you may be held liable for suppression costs and damage to the property of others.
Burning yard waste does not require an authorization from the Florida Forest Service, but you should check with your local city, county or Florida Forest Service officials to see if there are any restrictions in your area
For additional fire prevention tips, burning rules and regulations contact your local Florida Forest Service office (655-6407) or visit www.floridaforestservice.com/.
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