Protecting your family and property doesn’t just happen inside your home. What you do outside – in your back yard or out in the woods – can be just as critical, especially with the dry conditions in southern Wisconsin this spring.

Grilling

On average, grilling causes 8,800 home fires each year, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Not only that, a wildfire last month in southern California was started by an unattended cooking fire. Careless grilling can have consequences beyond your own back yard. Consider these tips from the NFPA before you fire up the grill.

  • Always use propane and charcoal grills outside.
  • Place your grill away from your home, deck railings, eaves and overhanging tree branches.
  • Keep kids and pets away from the grill.
  • Clean your grill after each use to prevent grease build-up.
  • Never leave your grill unattended.
  • Charcoal grills: only use charcoal starter fluid (not other flammable liquids) to start charcoal and always let coals cool down and dispose in a metal container.
  • Propane grills: check the gas tank hose for leaks each year; if you smell gas while cooking, get away from the grill and call the fire department.

Wildfires

It is wildfire season here in Wisconsin and across the country. In 2014, there were 63,000 wildfires in the U.S. that burned over 3.5 million acres. In addition to burned land, wildfires can cause significant property loss. While some wildfires are started by lightning, sparks from a railroad car or other things beyond your control, there are steps you can take to help prevent wildfires according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

  • “Be Ember Aware.” Make sure your fire is out. Embers from debris piles, campfires or ashes from fireplaces can be hot for days or weeks.
  • Obtain the proper burning permits and pay attention to the current fire danger warnings.
  • Find alternatives to burning. The Wisconsin DNR strongly discourages individuals from using burn barrels to dispose of household garbage, and prohibits commercial and government facilities from using burn barrels.
  • Participate in the Firewise Program and learn how to reduce the wildfire risk in your community.