The first National Wildfire Community Preparedness Day is May 3

As most Michigan wildfires occur in the spring, participate in this day of action to reduce your wildfire risk.

On Saturday, May 3, individuals and communities across the United States will be devoting anywhere from a few hours to the entire day performing a variety of tasks to reduce the risk of their homes and property suffering damage or destruction by wildfire. This first nationwide day of effort is being coordinated by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) in collaboration with Fire Adapted Communities and State Farm Insurance. While NFPA has produced educational, print materials and other resources focused on wildfire prevention for many years, partnering this year with State Farm has enabled them to expand their outreach efforts. They initiated two distinct outreach efforts and with grant funds from State Farm, for the first time ever, NFPA was able to offer a monetary incentive to encourage individuals and communities to take wildfire preparedness actions.

In fall of 2013, NFPA launched their 1,000 Safer Places: the Firewise Challenge to encourage increased participation in the Firewise Communities/USA Recognition Program. As part of this campaign, NFPA invited enrolled communities to apply for funding to assist with their wildfire mitigation activities during 2014 including chipping brush and removing vegetation to reduce wildfire hazards. Five wildfire preparedness project ideas and links to websites for other organizations featuring additional preparedness resources. You can learn what steps to take when developing a home evacuation plan, gets tips for creating a family communication plan, and essential items to include in a 3-day emergency kit.

Have a budding artist in the family? Children ages 6-18 can submit an original drawing on the theme of “wildfire preparedness-living compatibly with nature” for NFPA’s Firewise Communities Program 2015 Firewise calendar. Fourteen drawings will be selected with each winning artists receiving a $25 Amazon gift card. Each year the contest focuses on a different wildfire-related theme. Contest rules and a downloadable entry form are available on the Firewise website.

An excellent resource to assist in preparing for wildfire is eXtension’s Wildfire page. The site offers informative articles and webinars posted by members of the eXtension Wildfire Information Network (eWIN). Topics include wildfire behavior; what to do before, during, and after wildfire; and recommendations for construction materials and landscaping in wildfire prone areas.

For Michigan-specific wildfire resources, visit the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) Fire Management page. Learn what you can legally burn outdoors and when it is safe to burn. Burn permit updates are provided daily via an interactive map. Additional wildfire resources, as well as contact information for Extension staff who provide wildfire programming in your area, can be found at the Michigan State University Extension Firewise website

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