I’ve never, ever thought about fire as much as I have this year…
I know that some of you in other parts of the country are dealing with too much moisture and cool temps. But, we are the exact opposite here in our corner of Wyoming.
We’ve had various wildfire raging all over the parts of Wyoming and Colorado that are somewhat close to where we live. As I type, there is a out-of-control wildfire burning in the areas north of us. Last I heard, it was over 90,000 acres with little containment. That particular fire isn’t threatening our homestead at all, but the smoke blew in yesterday and turned the sky snow-white as it blocked out the sun. I could barely see the landmarks less than a mile away from our house…
Although in the past, I’ve complained about the serious lack of trees out here on the prairie, this year I am thankful. Generally, grassfires are somewhat easier to extinguish than the fires in timber. However, with the epic drought conditions we’ve been suffering from this year, that doesn’t mean our property still isn’t at risk from fire.
All it would simply take someone tossing a cigarette out the window on the road bordering the backside of our property, and our pasture could be on fire in minutes…
Obviously, there is a lot to think about when it comes to preparing or evacuating in the case of a fire.
I spent some time the other night talking with my husband about our fire preparedness plans. He is a volunteer fire fighter and shared some great ideas that I thought some of you might find useful as well.
Ultimately, God is in control of well-being of my homestead, and I won’t lay awake worrying about it since He know what will and will not happen. However, we will be taking a few extra precautions this year to make our home and structures more defensible in the instance that a fire visits our land.
(Please note- this is not meant to be a comprehensive list. I am not a fire science expert. However, I hope it will get you thinking towards preparedness, as that is the most important first step.)
Preparing Your Homestead for Wildfire
- Clean up piles of trash or brush piles. If fire fighters are trying to keep the fire from reaching your home, you want to have as little fuel for the fire laying around as possible.
- Cut down dead trees and shrubs.
- Keep your grass and pastures short. We have several large areas of unfenced grass surrounding our house and barn. Because they are not grazed, it’s easy for the grass in those areas to become quite tall. My husband spends a considerable amount of time on the tractor mowing each year to make sure those areas would provide as little fuel as possible for a prairie fire.
- Think about natural barriers. Things like green grass, bare dirt, roads, or rock are all helpful natural fire barriers. Obviously, it depends on your homestead as to which will work best for you. The goal is to slow down an approaching fire as much as possible.
- If you are building or remodeling a structure, take note of non-combustible building materials. Choosing safe shingles and siding is something to consider if you live in a dry area. This website has some excellent info regarding building materials, location, and plans.
- Have heavy drapes or curtains on your windows that you can close in the event of an approaching fire.
- Have plenty of hoses and keep them readily available during fire season.
- Consider planting a “fire mix” type of grass seed. This is new to me, but this page from Colorado State has tables and info about different mixes of grass seed that are more fire resistant than others.
- Store firewood or hay stacks away from buildings.
- Make sure your animals are clearly identified. Use ear tags or brands to mark your animals in case you must cut fences to free them in a hurry.
- Talk to neighbors to find out who might have a truck with water pumping capabilities. If I were ever to spot a fire close to us, I would first call 911, and then immediately call the neighbor down the road who has a small fire truck. I’m betting he could probably be here quicker than anyone else.
- Have a plan of where you can take your family and your animals in the event of an evacuation.
- If a fire is in the area, but you aren’t sure if it will be an issue for you or not, have your truck and trailer hooked up and ready to go in case you need to transport animals in a hurry.
- Store important papers such as social security cards, birth certificates, or animal registration papers in a fire-proof safe. Or, have them in a bag that you can easily grab in a hurry.
- Check out this article from Colorado State University for more ideas and checklists.
Hopefully, if you take these steps in preparing your homestead for fire and they will be completely unnecessary. But, even so, it never hurts to be prepared.
Like I mentioned above, this isn’t a comprehensive list- just some of the things I’ve been thinking of this year.
Although winter is a ways off, I’m already praying that we get a lot of snow this year to help make up our severe moisture deficient… Hopefully I’ll need the Homesteader’s Blizzard Checklist come January!
What other wildfire tips can you share in the comments?