Safety tips for homeowners during a drought

By Samuetta Hill Drew

Fall is the season nature paints beautiful landscapes of various shades of orange, red, yellow and brown in our yards and hillsides. This is the time of year the green leaves change colors to make this magnificent scenery as they slowly fall to the ground, making this scenic wonder a chore for many homeowners and even a safety risk. Homeowners respond in various ways. Some choose to bury the leaves, others rake them up and bag them while others decide to make a pile and burn them. This latter decision can become a major safety hazard, especially during a drought. So let’s review some safety measures to help keep your property safe around your home in the fall to help reduce safety risks during a drought.

Use caution when burning leaves/brush. Clear leaves away from your home and other buildings. Burn leaves only when permitted and in accordance with local laws and guidelines. Use extreme caution to ensure safety and control of the fire. Currently there is a ban on burning trash, leaves or brush outdoors in Jefferson County, along with other counties throughout the state, due to drought conditions. Another reason for the burning bans has been to reduce the formation of ground-level ozone. Efforts to reduce ozone in Alabama have been very successful. May through the beginning of October is typically very dry in this state.

It is important that you develop a safety zone around your home free from tall grass, brush or other flammable vegetation. Make sure you call 311 if you live in Birmingham to have the city cut any vacant lots next to your home with tall grass/vegetation. You will need the address of a home next to the vacant lot. Use safety fire-resistant species of plants and trees throughout your property especially around your home.

Maintain your yard by keeping your trees and shrubs pruned around chimney outlets. Also keep your entire yard mowed, raked and free of dead limbs. Regularly clean your gutters and roof to make sure they are free of debris. Maintain an adequate water supply around your home.

Don’t park any motorized vehicles on the grass for several reasons, but especially during the drought because the grass/shrubs/fallen leaves are very dry. Exhaust systems can far exceed the 500 degrees it takes to start a summer/fall brush fire. It is wise to always stay on pavement at your home and even if you have to pull off to the side of the road while traveling.

Place some household tools close by just in case you need to use them before the fire department is able to arrive. These firefighting tools are items such as a rake, ax, bucket, shovel, etc.

Remember fires are a real safety concern during a drought and they can quickly spread by
burning your bushes, trees and even your home if you don’t properly Keep an Eye on Safety.