September is National Preparedness Month, a nationwide, month-long effort hosted by the Ready Campaign encouraging households, communities, and businesses to prepare and plan for emergencies. This year we are asking you to take action now- make a plan with your community, your family, and for your pets. Plan how to stay safe and communicate during the disasters that can affect our community
September 6th through the 12th is focused on wildfires. A wildfire is an unplanned, unwanted fire burning in a natural area, such as a forest, grassland, or prairie. Although not frequently occurring on a large scale in Anne Arundel County, wildfires can occur anywhere in the country and can destroy homes, businesses, infrastructure, natural resources and agriculture. A wildfire which started on February 19, 2011 burned nearly 650 acres in Crofton and Odenton, requiring several days to extinguish. This fire was spread by winds which gusted to 63 miles per hour and was one of three multiple alarm wildfires in the county that day.
Wildfires can start in remote areas, in parks, or even in your back yard. Topography in Anne Arundel County includes wooded areas and fields as well as marsh lands, all of which can lead to brush fires. Wildfires can start from natural causes, such as lightning, but most are caused by humans, either accidentally- from cigarettes, campfires, or outdoor burning- or intentionally. Wildfires can occur at An All Hazards Response Organization, Committed to Your Safety
any time throughout the year, but the potential is always higher during periods with little or no rainfall, which make brush, grass, and trees dry and burn more easily. High winds can also contribute to spreading the fire.
The National Weather Service (NWS) will use these terms when conditions increase the possibility of wildfires in our community:
- Fire Weather Watch– the NWS issues a fire weather watch when potentially dangerous fire weather conditions are possible over the next 12 to 72 hours.
- Fire Weather Warning or Red Flag Warning– the NWS issues a fire weather warning or red flag warning when fire danger exists and weather patterns that support wildfires are either occurring or expected to occur within 24 hours.
To keep you and your family safe, keep these safety tips in mind to mitigate a wildfire:
- Clean roofs and gutters regularly
- Keep branches and limbs trimmed and away from chimneys and stove pipes
- Clear areas of leaves, brush, dead limbs, and fallen trees
- Store gas grill and propane tank at least 15 feet from the house
- Keep firewood at least 30 feet away from the house
Prepare your family by having an emergency supply kit, making a plan, and staying informed. To learn more about preparing your family, home and business, attend the Office of Emergency Management’s Emergency Preparedness Expo on Saturday, September 12th at the Marley Station Mall from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.