Released by City of St. Cloud Public Information Office
Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency April 11 across the state due to wildfires. The declaration helps ensure proper response to the danger of potentially more fires.
“The governor declared a state of emergency to make it easier for state, regional and local agencies to ‘quickly work together to protect our families, visitors and communities’,” said City of St. Cloud Division of Emergency Management Manager Bill Johnston. “Our forecast is predicting hotter and drier conditions in the coming weeks, so the chances for wildfires will probably increase because we’ll have hotter temperatures and low rainfall in our area. Personnel around the state are now battling more than 100 wildfires that are burning more than 23,800 acres, so we really need to stay alert and take any necessary precautions.”
According to Federal Emergency Management Agency, these are some of the things to do to minimize risks to life and property:
**Know wildfire risks where you live, work or visit
**Thin out and maintain vegetation
**Create a 30-foot safety zone around the home by keeping the volume of vegetation in this zone to a minimum
**Create a 100-foot safety zone around the home by reducing/replacing most-flammable vegetation
**Keep combustible materials away from the house
Residents can help prevent wildfires. Osceola County instituted a burn ban March 29 for all types of outside burning, including open fire pits, campfires and yard debris within the unincorporated areas of Osceola County. Burning is not allowed within the city limits of St. Cloud without a permit. According to American Red Cross, these are some of the things to do to help prevent wildfires:
**Smokers should dispose of used matches and butts in a closed container or cup of water. Never toss lit cigarettes in the air.
**Smokers should always keep lighters and matches out of the reach of children
**When allowed, only start a campfire or bonfire in an appropriate fire pit cleared of all vegetation and ringed by stones. Never leave a fire unattended.
**When allowed, do not burn anything highly combustible and do not start a burn on a windy day.
When grilling outside, National Fire Protection Association offers several grilling safety tips, including:
**Place grills well away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches
**Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the grill area
**Keep grills clean
**Never leave grill unattended
**Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to a fire
**Keep all charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources
**Check any hoses for leaks
According to Department of Homeland Security, these are some of the things to do if considering an evacuation:
**If you see a wildfire and haven’t received evacuation orders yet, call 9-1-1. Don’t assume that someone else has already called.
**If ordered to evacuate during a wildfire, do it immediately. Make sure you tell someone where you are going and when you arrive.
**Many communities have text or email alerting systems for emergency notifications. To find out what alerts are available in your area, search the Internet with your town, city or county name and the word “alerts”.
**If you or someone you are with has been burned, call 9-1-1 or seek help immediately; cool and cover burns to reduce chance of further injury or infection.
“To think that at this time last year we were experiencing a lot of rain and now we have such dry conditions just shows how finicky the weather can be in Florida,” said Johnston. “This is why we should always be prepared for any adverse weather situation.”
More wildfire preparedness information is available on the NFPA website at www.nfpa.org.