Climate change is increasing the number of wildfires. The hot dry climate in many countries means a single spark can light up an entire forest. While we can’t necessarily prevent these giant wildfires, we can help control them, especially in our backyard. If you live in a dry area covered in greenery, here are a few things you can do to protect your yard and home from flames. Several policy changes would decrease the risk of wildfires, too. 

Fire Resistant Plants 

Fire-resistant plants don’t catch fire and promote the spread of flames easily. However, this doesn’t mean they are fireproof. Look for plants that have moist and supple leaves. They should have small amounts of deadwood on them and not be prone to accumulate dry and dead plant matter. Any sap shouldn’t have a strong odor and should resemble water. Although generally, it’s best to avoid sap and resin altogether. 

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Different states have their ideal fire-resistant plants for the area. So, always double-check a plant will be able to thrive in its new home! Aloe vera, wild strawberry, chives, and coneflowers are a few examples of fire-resistant plants. Deciduous trees and shrubs are also good choices. 

Avoid decorative bark mulch as it can catch and spread fires easily. 

Spacing and Maintaining Yards

When planning a garden, ensuring fires cannot leap from plant to plant is essential. Shrubs and trees should be well spaced out. This also applies to the leaves of the plants. Trees should be pruned so they are 6 to 10 inches above the height of any bushes or shrubs. 

Dead branches and other plant matter should be removed regularly. It’s great kindling, so keep it away from your yard! In terms of laws and other grassy spaces, they should never be more than 4 inches high. 

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Use Fireworks Responsibly 

Everyone loves a little firework fun, but enjoying it responsible is key. Before lighting any fireworks, wet the surrounding grass and vegetation. Having extra water around in a bucket or easily accessible garden hose is also recommended. If it’s windy, wait and try lighting them later. The wind carries sparks incredibly fast. Once you’ve finished having your firework fun, douse them in water. 

Children can enjoy fireworks, firecrackers, and sparklers, but only under the supervision of an adult. Make sure to dip those sparklers in water afterward before throwing them away! 

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While these tips will help you enjoy fireworks a bit more safely and responsibly, the best course of action is to not use fireworks at all. They are harmful to domestic and wild animals, can cause fires, and can harm humans. There are so many other more eco-friendly and safe ways to celebrate. 

Driving and Parking Your Car

Sometimes they aren’t roads available, so driving through drive vegetation is the only choice. Cars get incredibly hot. This heat can transfer to surrounding vegetation, especially tall grass, and start a fire that spreads very quickly. After passing through dry vegetation, check the exhaust for debris build-up. Just be sure to wait for it to cool down before trying to remove any dead sticks, grass, or other plant matter. 

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Parking in tall grass is also risky. When possible, find a place with little to no dry vegetation. 

Policy Changes 

The Environmental Defense Fund has listed four policy changes that could help wildfire control. 

  • Investing in wildfire prevention: Most money is spent on putting out wildfires. However, removing dead plant matter and caring for tree seedlings would help forests thrive. 
  • Investing in research: Research could develop methods to predict which areas are at risk for wildfires and how climate change is altering wildfire behavior. 
  • Selling forest byproduct: Removing and selling dead trees could generate millions of dollars that could help fund forest restoration. The byproduct could be made into paper or furniture. 
  • Improving laws: Building on Bedrock environmental laws like the Endangered Species Act will help address wildfire and climate change-related issues 

Control and Prevention 

While you can’t entirely prevent wildfires, controlling their spread is doable. By introducing fire-resistant plants and safer practices into your home and lifestyle, you may be the household to stop a fire from spreading across a neighborhood. However, the biggest changes need to come from up top. Better policies, more funding, and laws that protect the environment are essential to flame-free forests. 

Sign this petition to demand that Governor Newsom increase year-round land maintenance in California!

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