SCFC shares fire prevention tips

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The spring season brought along warmer temperatures with its arrival. To celebrate the season and a tradition for some, people are preparing to spring clean. The South Carolina Forestry Commission reminds folks, spring cleaning includes the outside of the home as well.

SCFC reports there are more than 45 million homes in the US near or in the "wildland." They are part of the estimated 72,000 communities now at risk from wildfire. As these numbers grow, the pressure on local emergency response agencies grows. Emphasis at the national and local level on homeowner participation in their own home defense is on the rise.

That's reflected in the messaging of groups which track fire statistics such as the SC Forestry Commission and the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA).

In South Carolina, a number of communities have formed Firewise taskforces with the goal of reaching the Firewise Community, USA designation. But the concepts embraced by those communities are just as relevant to the individual outlying property owner, maybe more so.

Living in a serene wooded setting has its price, but proper landscaping habits will reduce the chances of a woods or grass fire from consuming your home.

Fire experts from forestry profession and NFPA have laid out these steps to take so that if wildfire takes aim at your homestead, you and your local firefighters will have a built-in advantage:

· Clear leaves and other vegetative debris from roofs, gutters, porches, and decks.

· Remove dead vegetation (ready fuel) and other items from under decks/porches and from within 10 feet of the house.

· Screen in areas below decks with wire mesh to prevent debris and combustible materials from accumulating.

· Remove flammable materials (wood piles, propane tanks, etc.) from within 30 feet of your home's foundation and outbuildings, including garages and sheds. If it can burn, it shouldn't be touching your home, shed, deck, or porch.

· Prune trees so the lowest branches are six-to-ten feet from the ground. This helps keep fire from climbing to tree tops, where it can launch embers great distances.

· Dispose of grass clippings and other dead litter which are in essence, wildfire's fuel.

· Inspect shingles and roof tiles. Replace or repair any which are loose or missing and expose sub roofing.

· Cover or enclose exterior attic vents, soffit vents and eaves with 1/8th'' wire mesh to help keep sparks out.

Just like cleaning house, fire safe landscaping is a year-round proposition. But spring seems to be the season we pick for making "sweeping" improvements indoors. It's the clean up outdoors though that could save our homes one day.

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