How to prevent forest fires

It’s well known by a large part of the population that forest fires are a serious problem that are devastating our forests every year. Forest fires have become not only a natural danger, but also a human-caused problem. In Spain, it’s estimated that each year around 135,822 hectares get burnt. This is a serious problem for the conservation of biodiversity and a great risk for people who live in rural areas.

The dates with the highest probability of forest fires are from June 1 to November 1 and, especially, at noon and at sunset, with increased risk on weekends in July and August. This does not mean that the rest of the year you don’t have to be careful, because there is always a risk to start a forest fire.

95% of forest fires are caused by humans, mostly due to negligence

Do not abandon waste

Any object such as matches, cigarette butts, cigarettes, burning objects, papers, plastics, glass or any kind of combustible material or residue are liable to cause a fire. It’s especially dangerous to smoke in or around the forest. It’s best not to smoke, but it is essential, use a container for the ashes, turn off the cigarette butt and pick it up.

Act with caution in risk areas

In areas of high risk of fire you must be doubly cautious. It’s advisable that for those who live in the vicinity not plant species that burn easily, and always deposit garbage in the places authorized. Hikers who go out to nature should know the environment well and not get away from the signposted places.

Avoid using the car or mechanical appliances

Combustion vehicles and other mechanical devices such as chainsaws, radials or welding groups should be kept away from pasture or scrub areas. Mechanical equipment can cause sparks or intense heat to cause a fire.

In case of forest fire, notify authorities

If a fire is detected, the first thing is to notify the 112, emergency telephone, or the 062 telephone, the ‘Guardia Civil’. Indicate in the call, the most suitable routes to arrive, taking into account towards where the fire advances. It is advisable, in addition, to know the local emergency services and how to contact them.

Know how to react to a fire

People near a fire should try to go to a clearing where the fire can not reach them, trying to get away from the sides of the fire and go to areas more devoid of vegetation. If you go by car, close the windows. And try to move to an area out of danger. Remember that a change in the direction of the wind can cause the fire to surround you. Therefore, always go in the opposite direction to the direction of the wind. If you work in the extinction work, do not stay alone and always follow the experts instructions. Remember that if you are required by the Public Authorities to assist in the extinction of a fire, you have a legal duty to cooperate.

Increase environmental awareness

Being aware of the risks and consequences of a forest fire may be the best way to end them. It is also important to take an active attitude: share with the people nearby the advice to avoid a fire, to warn the public authorities of discharges in the forest and to remove residues susceptible to provoke a fire, to extinguish well deserted fires, etc.


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