Fire-Safety

Fire Awareness During the Month of May

Excerpt from the Hidden Valley Homeowners Newsletter, May 2011

Neighborhood Watch isn’t just about “lookin’ out for the bad guys” as I thought when I first got involved. I learned that the “bad guys” are only a part and there are many concerns that we need to be aware of. One concern is simply the general safety of Hidden Valley. The first week of May is Fire Awareness week in Washoe County, which leads to a second concern. In an article in the Reno Gazette Journal on May 1, 2011, it gave history that showed Nevada usually experiences a strong fire season after every three years, and usually following a wet winter. In 2007, 890,100 acres burned. For 2008, 2009, 2010, 71,900 acres, 33,300 acres, and 23,800 acres burned respectively. Per the average and after our wet winter, we are prime for a strong fire season. Here a few tips from the Washoe County Community Safety Handbook:

  • People start most wildfires
  • Make sure that fire vehicles can get to your home.
  • Clearly mark all driveway entrances and display your address.
  • Report hazardous conditions that could cause a wildfire.
  • Teach children about fire safety. Keep matches out of their reach.
  • Plan several escape routes away from your home by car and by foot.
  • Consider how you could help neighbors with special needs.
  • Regularly clean roof and gutters.
  • Inspect chimneys at least once a year and equip with a spark arrestor.
  • Install a smoke detector on each level of the house. Test monthly and change batteries at least once a year.
  • Keep a ladder that will reach the roof.
  • Keep handy household items that can be used as fire tools: a rake, axe, handsaw or chainsaw, bucket, and shovel.
  • Design or modify your landscape with your home and wildfire safety in mind.
  • Select materials and plants that can help contain rather than fuel a fire.
  • Create a 30’ safety zone around your home.
  • Mow grass regularly, rake leaves, remove dead limbs and twigs. Clear all flammable vegetation.
  • Thin a 15-foot space between tree crowns and remove limbs within 15 feet of the ground. Remove dead branches that extend over the roof and vines that have grown onto the house.
  • Stack firewood at least 100 feet away and uphill from your home.

More and more homeowners enjoy the beauty of the environment but face the real danger of wildfire. Wildfires often begin unnoticed and spread quickly, igniting brush, trees, and homes. Plan with your family where you would go and what you would do if your home is threatened by wildfire.

Most of these tips relate to our own homes, and now with so many vacant properties in Hidden Valley, we must keep an eye on those also. Several remain unkempt, and have small jungles in the yards that will become hazards with the warming weather. Unfortunately Hidden Valley does not have the power to access these properties, make them safe, and assess the owners so it is important that we be aware.

Neighbors Helping Neighbors