Florida Division of Emergency Management encourages wildfire preparedness during Florida Wildfire Awareness Week

Press release from Florida Department of Emergency Management

TALLAHASSEE, Fla – This week, the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) is promoting Wildfire Awareness Week. FDEM encourages all Floridians to be wildfire-ready and make a plan for what to do if a wildfire threatens your community as well as learn how you can help reduce the chances of a wildfire in your area.

“Wildfire season is year-round in Florida; however, it typically peaks during the heart of the dry season from March-May,” said FDEM Executive Director Kevin Guthrie. “With an uptick in wildfire activity statewide, as well as an enhanced concern due to the debris left behind from Hurricanes Ian and Nicole, I implore Floridians to remember that wildfire safety is everyone’s responsibility.”

“Since January, over 1,000 wildfires have burned more than 33,000 acres in Florida, and we are now entering the peak of wildfire season, which means Floridians should take extra precautions during these drier months to protect people and property,” said Interim Florida Forest Service Director Rick Dolan. “The Florida Forest Service encourages Floridians to be Wildfire Ready by preparing your yard, home, and emergency kit, and knowing Florida’s outdoor burning laws.”

The leading cause of wildfires across the state is people, specifically unauthorized burns and individuals burning yard waste. Yard waste refers to any vegetative debris such as brush, leaves, or tree limbs collected from yard maintenance. When burning yard waste, it is imperative you meet the following requirements:

  • Yard waste must fit in an 8-foot diameter pile or noncombustible container.
  • Fire must be ignited after 8 a.m. CT/9 a.m. ET and must be extinguished one hour before sunset.
  • The fire must be 25 feet from your home, wildlands, brush, or any combustible structure.
  • The fire must be 150 feet from other occupied buildings and 50 feet from paved public roads.

There are many actions that can be taken to help reduce wildfires, including burning yard waste safely and following all guidelines provided by the Florida Forest Service. Prepare your yard by clearing all debris and dead vegetation and creating a buffer between trees, patio furniture, or other items that could catch fire. Regularly clean your roof and ensure you have working fire extinguishers and smoke alarms on each level of your home.

Additional Wildfire Safety Tips:

  • Prepare for Wildfires – Timely information on wildfires can save your life and property. Make a plan and keep enough supplies for everyone in your household, including a first aid kit, in your go bag or car trunk.
  • Stay Safe During a Wildfire – Monitor all weather alerts and evacuate immediately if told to do so by authorities. If you are not ordered to evacuate but smoky conditions exist, protect yourself from smoke inhalation and stay inside in a safe location.
  • Returning Home After a Wildfire – Do not return home until it is deemed safe to do so by local authorities. Avoid hot ash and smoldering debris, and wear protective clothing once it is safe to start cleaning up. Use a respirator to avoid inhaling fine particles and document any property damage with photographs.

Visit FloridaDisaster.org/hazards/wildfire to learn more about wildfire safety and to stay up to date on the fire danger index and active fire locations in your area.

For weather updates and safety tips, follow the Division on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @FLSERT.