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May is Wildfire Awareness Month

Every year, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) highlights the importance of wildfire prevention and preparedness by declaring the month of May as “Wildfire Awareness Month.” Washington experiences its heaviest wildfire activity during the summer, but fires occur all seasons of the year, including spring. This year, DNR has responded to 170 wildfire incidents. Half of those were west of the Cascades.

Wildfires that occur in the wildland-urban interface often are started by human activity. Once underway, a fire follows the fuel, whether that fuel is trees or houses. To get an early start on Wildfire Awareness Month, join neighbors and reduce your community wildfire risk by taking part in National Wildfire Community Preparedness Day on Saturday, May 4.

Property owners can commit just a few hours to reduce fire risk to their homes and lands by keeping dead vegetation off roofs and away from buildings. The Firewise USA® program explains how to use these techniques and offers incentives to communities that follow wildfire risk reduction principles. 

Tips to prepare for and help prevent wildfire:

  • Remove dead leaves, limbs and twigs from your yard. Clear away all flammable vegetation from your home.
  • Remove tree branches that hang over the roof
  • Clean gutters of dead debris
  • Prune trees and shrubs
  • Mow your grass regularly

May is also Volcano Awareness Month 

Did you know that Washington State is home to five major active volcanoes: Mount Baker, Glacier Peak, Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens and Mount Adams? Unlike Hawaiian volcanoes that ooze molten lava, volcanoes in the Pacific Northwest are known for sending choking ash, hot rocks, and poisonous gases high into the sky. Lahars, which are deadly mixes of hot mud, ash, and other debris, are also a big concern.

May is Volcano Preparedness Month. If you live or work near these mountains, or in nearby valleys, make sure you know what to do if a volcano erupts:

  • Learn more about volcanoes in our state, community warning systems, emergency plans, and evacuation routes.
  • Be prepared for ashfall, mudflows, earthquakes, and other hazards that accompany volcanic eruptions.
  • Plan two evacuation routes out of your neighborhood.
  • Have goggles and disposable breathing masks for each member of your household.
  • Follow emergency officials instructions regarding restricted areas and when it's safe to go outdoors or return home. 

It's also a good idea to get to know your neighbors. During an emergency you can help each other and share needed resources. Find emergency planning tips and checklists at www.makeitthrough.org.

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