Man varnishing a chair

As warmer weather approaches, NFPA offers 6 key tips to safely tackle spring cleaning

Melted snow, budding trees, longer days: they’re all signs that the warmer months are fast-approaching -  and for many of us, these seasonal hallmarks are reminders to start spring cleaning in and around our homes. As people power up their lawnmowers, rake up debris, touch up chipped paint, and take on myriad projects to get their homes and yards ready for the months ahead, following are six key practices and supporting recommendations to help minimize the risk of fires and associated hazards: Properly use and store gasoline Use gasoline only as motor fuel, never as a cleaner or to break down grease. Only store gasoline in a container that is sold for that purpose and never bring it indoors, even in small amounts. Never store gasoline containers in a basement or in the occupied space of a building. Keep them in a detached garage or an outdoor shed. Make sure the container is tightly capped when not in use. Carefully dispose of rags with paint and stain The oils commonly used in oil-based paints and stains release heat as they dry. If the heat is not released in the air as the rags dry, the heat is trapped, builds up and can cause a fire. Never leave cleaning rags in a pile. When you’re finished using the rags, take them outside to dry, keeping them well away from the home and other structures. Hang rags outside or spread them on the ground and weigh them down so that they don’t blow away. Put dried rags in a metal container, making sure the container is tightly covered. Fill the container with a water and detergent solution, which will break down the oils. Keep containers of oily rags in a cool place out of direct sunlight and away from other heat sources. Check with your town for information on how to properly dispose of them. Use/store flammable and combustible liquids with care Flammable and combustible liquids should not be used near an open flame. Never smoke when working with these liquids. If you spill liquids on your clothing, remove your clothing and place it outside to dry. Once dry, clothing can be laundered. Keep liquids in their original containers. Keep them tightly capped or sealed. Never store the liquids in glass containers. Feel free to use and/or share our Safety with Oily Rags tip sheet (PDF), which includes the above tips and more. Inspect grills to ensure they’re in good working order Inspect your grill (PDF) carefully and make sure it’s free of grease or fat buildup. Clean out any nests, spider webs, or other debris you may find. For propane grills, check the gas tank hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. Keep debris well away from your home Every year, wildfires (PDF) burn across the U.S., with more and more people living in communities where wildfires are a real risk. Dispose of branches, weeds, leaves, pine needles, and grass clippings that you have cut to reduce fuel for fire. Remove leaves, pine needles, and other flammable material from the roof, gutters, and on and under the deck to help prevent embers from igniting your home. Remove dead vegetation and other flammable materials, especially within the first 5 feet of the home. Move construction material, trash, and woodpiles at least 30 feet away from the home and other outbuildings. Clean out your clothes dryer Make sure the air exhaust vent pipe for your dryer (PDF) is not restricted and that the outdoor vent flap will open when the dryer is operating. This includes making sure the outdoor vent flap is not covered by snow. Move things that can burn, such as boxes, cleaning supplies and clothing, away from the dryer. Clothes that have come in contact with flammable substances like gasoline, paint thinner, or similar solvents should be laid outside to dry, then can be washed and dried as usual.
National Wildfire Preparedness Day

Strengthening the safety net: a healthy insurance market will help us Outthink Wildfire

A new policy brief by NFPA highlights insurance as a key component required for all of us to collectively Outthink Wildfire™ and eliminate the loss of communities to wildfire in 30 years. NFPA’s recent launch of a bold policy initiative, Outthink Wildfire™, describes five areas we must address to end the wildfire destruction of communities by 2050: making existing homes ignition-resistant; building new structures to safer standards; equipping our fire service with training and protective gear; managing the nation’s fire-prone landscapes; and educating the public on risk reduction. A healthy insurance marketplace is vital to achieving these actions. Property insurance is the primary and largest financial safety net for recovering from disaster-caused property damage, including wildfires. Some 70 million home insurance policies are in force across the country. When wildfires destroy hundreds, even thousands, of homes, the payout of these policies is key to rebuilding communities and reducing the demand on taxpayer-supported disaster relief. Yet many Americans don’t carry enough insurance to allow them to recover after a wildfire. Recent disasters have also meant rising insurance rates in some cases, and denial of insurance coverage for high-risk properties in others. Until the nation’s high-risk areas have many more communities with mitigated homes and safer newly built structures, there is still a significant risk of repeating the multi-billion dollar property losses we have seen in recent wildfire disasters. That’s why people need to understand how important it is to carry enough property insurance to cover their potential losses, and to support the tenets of Outthink Wildfire. To keep insurance affordable, available, and able to help people recover from wildfire disasters, people must take risk reduction steps on private property, and local and state governments must enforce sound land use and construction standards for buildings in high-risk areas. Read NFPA’s latest policy statement on insurance to understand more and visit the Outthink Wildfire webpage to see how these and other actions will go a long way to helping end the loss and suffering of wildfire disasters.
A wildfire burning at night

Burn Survivor Shares Her Story About Importance of Being Prepared for and Living Safely with Wildfire

In just the past few years, the U.S. has seen the average number of acres burned in wildfires rise exponentially. The country has watched as 40,000 structures have been destroyed, 100 lives were lost, and countless families were impacted as a result of a wildfire event in their community. Allyson Watson knows first-hand what it means to suffer at the hands of a wildfire. Forced to evacuate her home during one of the worst wildfire seasons in the history of southern California, Allyson was involved in two separate car accidents trying to flee her family home when a wildfire engulfed her community. Suffering 2nd and 3rd degree burns over 85 percent of her body as a result of the accidents, Allyson spent years recovering from her injuries. The Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors recently shared Allyson’s story on their website. As a burn survivor her journey is one of perseverance and resilience, and she credits her family and friends with helping her through the emotional and physical aspects of her recovery. As she grew stronger, Allyson’s bravery and passion spurred her on to advocate for wildfire safety, raising awareness and educating others in wildfire-prone areas about the importance of being prepared for a fire including having an evacuation plan and initiating retrofits and maintaining ignition-resistant properties. Allyson’s story is a powerful reminder about the need for better policies if we want to lower community wildfire risk. NFPA recently launched Outthink Wildfire™, an initiative that aims to drive more policy change across all levels of government to stem the tide of losses from wildfire. With so much loss, it is time for the country to take a stand, demand a new approach, and pursue a better course of action that will help us live more safety with wildfire. NFPA believes if the policy actions laid out in Outthink Wildfire are followed, we can end the destruction of communities from wildfire in the next 30 years. We are grateful to Allyson for sharing her story with us.  Read more about her journey and Outthink Wildfire on the Phoenix Society’s website.

NFPA Journal explores how we can collectively Outthink Wildfire™

The new Spring NFPA Journal is out and its feature article takes an in depth view on NFPA’s bold new strategy for ending the destruction of communities by wildfire in 30 years.  To Outthink Wildfire™, we can’t simply do what we’ve always done to address the problem.  What is needed are new approaches, new tactics, and a new resolve to use what we’ve learned about the risks of the wildland/urban interface (WUI) over the past 50 years to create a new blueprint for addressing the nation’s wildfire crisis.  The article explores the five key action policies for this new call to action, provides relevant examples about where the challenges are and where they are being solved, and calls on you to make a difference.  I enjoyed the privilege of collaborating with NFPA’s Wildfire Division Director, Michele Steinberg, on this article and hearing her excitement for the vision of Outthink Wildfire™.  When the NFPA Journal’s feature article was released earlier this week, she explained, “We can’t wait any longer, hoping that a specific industry or agency will take the first step to changing future outcomes. By taking a holistic approach and inviting decision-makers and stakeholders to engage in the solutions together, we can strengthen the arguments in favor of sustainable building and land management. Together, we can come to consensus on the solutions to provide better protection of the people and places at risk from wildfire destruction.” I share her excitement.  Recent destructive wildfires bring into stark focus that the continued loss of life, property, and local economic vitality is unacceptable.  The challenges in social equity from this risk are unacceptable and a holistic approach is truly needed to outthink wildfire.  This will require a generational shift that seeks changes over the natural life cycle of existing homes and public demand, just as the progressive response to urban conflagrations in the 19th and 20th centuries achieved.  Ultimately, we need to make the loss of communities to wildfire a lesson of history, not a part of our future. Learn more about the Outthink Wildfire™ action policies and their call to action for your community
Wildfire Prep Day toolkit
1 2 ... 45

Latest Articles