Mitigate Wildfire Risk During the Fall Season

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Mitigate Wildfire Risk During the Fall Season

It is getting to be that time of year again in Texas; our fall season! With fall comes nicer weather and hunting season – both things that are getting people outdoors and, on the road, more often. As more folks head out, it’s important to use caution in the field and stay mindful of activities that could result in a wildfire incident. In Texas, nine out of ten wildfires are caused by humans, so it is our job to mitigate those risks!

Hunting:

  • Temps may be cooling down slowly, but the hot, dry and windy weather conditions that are still present require an added level of awareness and safety precautions.
  • Some tips to keep in mind:              
    • Avoid shooting near tall, dry grass
    • Avoid using full metal jacket or tracer ammunition
    • Properly maintain vehicles (off-road and regular), and avoid parking/idling in dry vegetation
    • When towing trailers, secure the safety chains to ensure they do not come into contact with the road, which will create sparks
    • Always check with local officials on burn bans or other outdoor burning restrictions that may be in place

Camping/Grilling:

  • Many Texans look forward to the fall season because it means they will get to be out and enjoying nature through camping, grilling, and congregating around campfires. Never forget, your campfire is your responsibility!
  • Some tips to keep in mind:
    • Keep your campfire small and manageable. Large fires require more water and effort to ensure they are completely out, which could mean less hunting/camping time!
    • Ensure your campfire is in a safe area. Clear the area around your fire.
    • Never leave a campfire unattended
    • When preparing to leave, soak your fire with water. Stir the coals, and soak again. Check for heat and repeat until the fire is out cold
    • Never leave a grill unattended. Wind gusts could blow embers into dry vegetation
    • Clean your grill of excess grease to prevent flare-ups
    • Place your grill in an open and safe area, away from tall/dry vegetation, woodpiles, shrubs, or other flammable material
    • After you finish grilling, give the coals a chance to cool completely
    • With trailer-mounted grills or grills transported in the bed of a truck – properly dispose of or completely extinguish coals before travelling. Never travel with smoldering or lit coals, even for a short distance
    • Monitor weather conditions and avoid grilling using wood or charcoal on hot, dry, windy days

Heavy Equipment:

  • Many hunters will be using heavy equipment to prepare their land for hunting season, whether it be food plots or road work. It is important to stay mindful of the wildfire risk that can be associated with hauling and using heavy machinery.
  • Some tips to keep in mind:
    • Remove rocks, metal and other debris from your work area beforehand
    • Properly maintain equipment - always
    • Check equipment prior to use, and frequently during, for debris that could be trapped underneath or in any attached equipment
    • Check moving parts such as bearings for signs of overheating, as well as brake pads and tire pressure
    • Avoid parking or idling equipment in dry vegetation
    • Have a spotter nearby with a water source or have a fire extinguisher on hand in case fire ignition occurs
    • If possible, avoid use of heavy equipment during significant fire potential periods

Debris Burning:

  • When burning debris in your yard, whether in the open on the ground or in burn barrels, there are a few things to keep in mind to avoid wildfire ignition:
    • Check locally for any outdoor burning restrictions that may be in place
    • If in a community, check to see if there is an approved communal burning area or designated days for debris pick-up
    • Wet the area around the burn pile prior to starting your burn
    • Keep debris piles small and manageable
    • Whether using a barrel or burning in a pile, place in open cleared areas (preferably 10 feet around burn area or barrel)
    • If using a burn barrel ensure the barrel is in good condition
    • Place barrel on bricks, gravel or dirt – away from flammable material or vegetation
    • Ensure the metal barrel has evenly spaced, 3-inch screened vent holes cut into the lower sides of the barrel
    • Avoid any overhead obstructions such as trees, powerlines or structures
    • Be mindful of current and expected weather conditions. Postpone burning if conditions are or will be hot, dry, and windy
    • Have all tools and a water source/fire extinguisher on hand before you begin to burn
    • Allow enough time to remain with your fire until it is completely out and cold
    • Never leave your fire unattended

Useful Links:

Texas A&M Forest Service- Predictive Services website: https://tfsweb.tamu.edu/predictiveservices/

Texas A&M Forest Service- Burn Ban Map: https://tfsweb.tamu.edu/Burnbans/