East Hawaii News

Firewise Communities Offers Wildfire Prevention and Safety Tips         

May 12, 2015, 1:20 PM HST
* Updated May 12, 1:24 PM
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In light of the recent wildfires in Ka‘u, Firewise Communities Hawai‘i, a local chapter of a national program working towards wildfire prevention, is offering some useful tips to Big Island residents for wildfire safety and prevention.

Denise Laitinen, Firewise Communities coordinator for Hawai‘i, says creating a safety perimeter around your home of roughly 30-feet is a good precaution against wilfires.

“It’s about being lean, clean, and green,” says Laitinen.  “Even if you only have five or ten feet of yard, you can still be Firewise.”

Create a safety-buffer around your home by following these tips:

  • Prune shrubs and trees so hanging branches are no lower than six to 10 feet off the ground to prevent flames from travelling to tree tops.
  • Clean up dead leaves and plants from yard.
  • Grow plants with high-moisture content or native species.
  • Ensure plants closest to the house are low to the ground.

In the event of a fire approaching your home, Firewise recommends the following actions:

  • Call 911!
  • Close entrances, windows, and other openings, as well as shutters, heavy drapes, and blinds to prevent sparks from blowing into the home and igniting.
  • Turn off residential fuel sources including gas and butane.
  • Protect yourself: wear cotton clothing including long pants, long sleeved shirt, gloves, and a handkerchief to protect your face.
  • Keep tools and water handy: ladder, shovel, rake and long water house if possible.  Fill buckets or other bulk containers with water.
  • Wet the roof: if your roof can potentially burn, spray it down with a hose.
  • Prepare vehicles: back as many vehicles as possible into the garage and close the door.  If evacuation is necessary, close the garage door when leaving.  If you don’t have a garage, park vehicles in a manner that enables a quick getaway.
  • Evacuate the family.  Take family and pets to a safe location, if it becomes necessary.
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For more information on fire safety from Firewise Communities Hawaii, contact (808) 281-3497, or e-mail [email protected].

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