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Early prepping key ahead of wildfire season

LIHU‘E — In many areas, May is Wildfire Awareness Month and to ignite this campaign the Kaua‘i Fire Department (KFD) is advising the community and homeowners to work together to become better prepared for the summer season.

“Wildfires have the potential to cause significant destruction to our homes, communities, and public spaces,” said KFD Chief Michael Gibson.

He said May is a good time for early prepping in neighborhoods and communities.

“Our residents and businesses must take preventative measures to mitigate wildfires, especially when we head into the drier summer season,” Gibson added.

People should be prepared with an emergency kit and be ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice. KFD offered the following tips:

• Remove dead vegetation and other flammable materials, especially within the first 5 feet of the home. Any invasive grasses, such as guinea grass and koa haole, overgrow when unmanaged and can create a significant fire hazard so, remember to weed them often and consider replanting with low-lying, drought–tolerant, native ground cover.

• Remove flammable materials from decks, porches, lanai and underneath the house. Common flammables include scrap wood, firewood and combustible furniture.

• Keep your lawn hydrated and shorter than 4 inches tall around the home. Do not mow in the day’s heat or when the wind blows; never mow in dry vegetation.

• Have a plan and an escape route to a clear, safe area away from fire.

If residents need to leave their neighborhoods, they should follow these steps if time allows:

Take important documents and medications, locate your pets and take them with you, and don’t leave water sprinklers on or water running because it can affect critical water pressure.

Lastly, obey all orders from officials when evacuating as they will guide people a safe shelter. Remember to report any possible fires, including signs of smoke or flames, by calling Kaua‘i Police Department Dispatch at 808-241-1711 or 911 if it is an emergency.

In addition, KFD is partnering with the Hawai‘i Wildfire Management Organization on a wildfire preparedness learning series for large landowners and land stewards throughout May.

For more tips to prevent wildfires, visit Kauai.gov/fire and download the Hawai‘i Wildland Management Organization Fire Action Guide by clicking “Wildland Fire Action Guide & Safety Tips.”

To sign up for the Wireless Emergency Notification System (WENS), the county’s emergency notification service, please visit www.kauai.gov/KEMA and click “WENS.” People may also call the Kaua‘i Emergency Management Agency at 808-241-1800.
Source: The Garden Island

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