Steps to prevent wildfires, protect your home

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – With conditions across the First Coast ripe for wildfires, Florida Forestry officials and meteorologists are warning homeowners to be extra careful.

"The elevated wildfire potential is not only aided by the warm temps, but we are also dealing with a rain deficit and, possibly for the next 14 days, we could get less than 1/10th of an inch of rain," News4Jax meteorologist Jonathon Stacey said. "That said, we have relative humidity values, not a good situation when you combine all those weather factors together.”

Here are some safety tips from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as the area approaches drought-like conditions:  

  • Properly discard cigarettes.  
  • Keep vehicles off dry grass.  
  • Avoid activities with open flames or sparks.  
  • Avoid power equipment that creates sparks. 
  • Obey burn bans. 
  • Evacuate if fire/smoke is heading your way. 
  • Evacuate if ordered to do so by local officials.

Here are safety tips from Firewise USA for homeowners on the best ways to protect their homes from wildfires:

  • Limit the amount of flammable vegetation around your home.
  • Mow the lawn regularly and trim branches, shrubs and overhanging limbs around your home.
  • Remove plants containing resins, oils and waxes.
  • Never store flammable materials or firewood underneath decks or porches. 
  • Make sure your home and neighborhood have clearly marked street names and numbers to make it easier for the fire department to respond. 

It’s also recommended that you talk about and practice an emergency action plan with your family. Do not forget about pets and to include neighbors in those plans. 

“Knowing that it is dry, people need to take it upon themselves to be cautious,” said Victor Taylor, Duval County supervisor with the Florida Forest Service.

For more specific recommendations about preparing homes visit, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service's Firewise site or the National Fire Protection Association