Memorial Day is the official start of summer for most Americans and, more important, a day where we remember the sacrifices so many made for our country. In celebrating and remembering this Memorial Day, millions of Americans hit the road, have barbecues, and spend time outdoors with loved ones.
While taking part in the outdoor fun, the Florida Forest Serves urges the public to remain vigilant due to weather conditions continuing to get hotter and drier.
The recent lack of rainfall, quick moving thunderstorms and strong gusty winds are contributing to the rapid drying of ground vegetation and present the coastal areas with a strong potential for wildfires. Wildfire activity is picking up each day that goes by. Although some areas have received rain, others have not.
“Coastal Walton, Bay and Gulf Counties have received only a quarter of an inch of rain since May 1st while inland areas have received less than 2-3 inches,” said Johnny Sabo, Chipola Center Manager. “Without a significant rainfall, it doesn’t take much to start a wildfire so we want to stress the importance of being vigilant.”
Under these conditions sparks can ignite easily and fires will spread rapidly. Safety of the public and first responders is always of the utmost concern.
Preventing wildfires is the responsibility of everyone. Each year in Florida there are hundreds of wildfires caused by escaped fires; individuals who burn carelessly or not within the law. If a fire escapes your property, you can be held responsible for the cost of suppression and damage to your neighbor’s property.
Don’t let your Memorial Day fun go up in smoke. Here are a few tips to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend:
Build campfires in an open area away from trees and overhanging branches.
Utilize designated fire rings whenever possible.
Never leave a fire unattended.
Keep water handy.
Completely extinguish the fire with water before leaving it.
Use propane grills instead of an open fire when hot, dry and windy.
Place grills over bare dirt or pavement – away from dead grass and weeds.
Never transport or dump live coals from a grill.
Follow the current open burning laws and restriction.
To get an authorized outdoor burning permit or to report a wildfire or suspicious smoke, call (850) 547-7083. The Florida Forest Service, a division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, manages 37 state forests on more than 1 million acres of public forest land while protecting 26 million acres of homes, forestland and natural resources from the devastating effects of wildfire. Visit the Florida Forest Service website for more information at www.floridaforestservice.com.