October 5, 2015

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Feature Story

Prevent Wildfires

As warm, dry conditions return to northern Arizona, forest visitors are urged to remember fire safety. While there was snow on the ground until just recently, there has been below normal precipitation over the area in April and vegetation is drying. Fire safety is everyone’s responsibility.
With the number and severity of Wildland Fire continues to increase across the Southwestern United States, posing a threat to life, property and vital natural resources, Navajos and visitors are urged to share the responsibilty to reduce the threat of Wildland Fires and protect our commuities. Here are a few basic tips to help you and your family have a safe and fun outing.
  1. Build your campfires away from overhanging branches, rotten stumps, shrubs, dry grass and leaves. Keep it at least 25 feet from all structures. Watch for flying embers.
  2. Never leave a campfire unattended and keep campfires small.
  3. Keep plenty of water handy and have a shovel for throwing dirt on the fire if it gets out of control.
  4. While extinguishing the fire, pour water on the fire, stirring the ashes, then applying more water. Ashes should be cool enough to touch before you leave the site.
  5. Never leave your campfire unattended. 
Remember check your local fire restrictions or report any fires by contacting your local Fire Department or the Navajo Forestry Department at (928)729-4007 or the BIA-Navajo Region Fire Dispatch Office at (928)729-7230.
"Remember only you can prevent wildland fires" - Smokey the Bear
  1. Use fire-resistant construction materials to deter embers. 
  2. Create survivable space around your house. Thin and prune trees within 125 feet of your home. Remove branches that overhang the roof. Ensure trees or clumps of the roof. Ensure trees or clumps of trees are spaced 20 feet apart.
  3. Use fire-restricted vegetation within 30 feet of structures. Move woodpiles away from your home. Replace wood mulches with non combustible types and remove dead plant debris next to the house and wooden fences.
  4. Remove leaves and pine needles from your roof, gutters, and deck. Plant debris could easily be ignited by flying embers.
  5. Prune shrubs, cut grass and remove weeds regularly.
  6. Ensure garden hoses and gas-powered equipment are in good repair.
How smoke conditions may affect your health is determined by a number of factors, such as length of time you are exposed, how much air you breath in, your health status and the concentration of smoke in the air.
Smoke is made up by a number of components. The unhealthiest material in the forest firs smoke is the small particles (particulates). They may make it harder to breathe or make you cough. These small particles can also make existing heart and lung conditions worse.
Young children, the elderly and people with heart or lung conditions, like asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and congestive heart failure are more sensitive t the adverse effects of exposure to smoke. People participating in sports or strenuous work outdoors may also be more susceptible, because they are breathing in air deeply and rapidly. Risks increase when smoke becomes heavier and as the length of time a person is exposed increases.
Exposure to smoke can cause sore eyes, tears, cough, and a runny nose.
If you are concerned about smoke, you can take the following precautions:
  - Limit Outdoor Activites, especially if it makes you tired or short of breath.
  - Keep Windows and Doors Closed. If you have air conditioning, set your A/C Unit to re-circulate and keep it running to help filter the air and keep you cool.
  - Don't burn anything, including wood stoves, gas stoves, and even candles. Avoid Cigarette Smoke.

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