In 2017, California saw more destructive wildfires than ever before. The fire damage spread over one million acres and caused $13 billion dollars in damages.

Wildfires start for a variety of different reasons.

Sometimes, nature plays a part – something as simple as the heat from the sun can cause a dry patch of land to ignite. Other times, unfortunately, it’s people that start these fires.

Because wildfires can cause so much devastation so quickly, it’s essential that we all do our part in helping to prevent them. You might be thinking of the old “Smokey the Bear” cartoons about preventing forest fires but doing what you can to keep wildfires at bay isn’t child’s play. Let’s take a look at a few useful tips you can use to prevent wildfires in your area.

Don’t Leave a Fire Alone

Whether you’re at a campsite or having a bonfire in your backyard, never walk away and leave a fire unattended. Even if it looks like it’s dying out, wildfires have started from nothing but embers before. Extinguish the fire completely with water and stir around the ashes. You want them to be completely cold with no traces of embers before you walk away from it.

Don’t Discard Flammables

Tossing anything out your car window or throwing your trash on the ground is never a good idea. But, it can be especially damaging if it’s something that could ignite a fire. Things like cigarettes, matches, lighters, or anything that could cause a spark should never be tossed on the ground. Unfortunately, this is a big problem at campsites, which can often be where fires get started. If you have something like matches or a cigarette, make sure it is completely extinguished and cold before throwing it away in a proper waste bin.

Don’t Burn on a Windy Day

If you’re burning yard waste, wait to do it on a calm day. It doesn’t take much wind to pick up something like leaves and spread the embers around. If those embers hit a patch of dry land, a wildfire could start in mere minutes. You should never burn yard waste on the ground. Instead, use a 50-gallon drum or fire pit to keep it contained.

Report Out of Control Fires

If you see a fire that has been left unattended, or one that looks like it’s burning out of control, contact 911 immediately. Often, wildfires can grow and spread to be huge undertakings before authorities even have the chance to start working on them. The sooner authorities can start working to extinguish a fire, the less damage is likely to occur.

It doesn’t take much to do your part for wildfire prevention. Because human error is so often the cause of this major problem, we’re the ones that can prevent most fires, too!

Keep these tips in mind, especially if you’re in a state prone to wildfires. If everyone started practicing these fire safety methods in their everyday life, imagine how fewer wildfires we’d see each year.