Summer is in full swing and many people are making plans for the next big holiday – the Fourth of July! As we recognize the establishment of our country’s independence, let’s also remember to protect our communities, our land, and our fellow citizens from unintended mistakes that can have devastating consequences.

Many areas in Georgia have gone weeks without any significant rainfall, and drought conditions are becoming predominant. As dry conditions increase, so does the incidence of wildfire. The drier it is, the faster fires ignite and spread. Within minutes, a small fire can become out of control and ignite grass, vegetation, and forestlands, as well as structures and property. As you plan outdoor activities, please consider some very important safety practices to prevent wildfires.

It may not seem likely, but summer tools and supplies we use regularly can become dangerous incendiary devices if not carefully handled. Any source of ignition can spark a wildfire, and that includes outdoor grills, campfires, fireworks, and even hot vehicle undercarriages and lawn equipment. Of course, tossing cigarettes and the like into vegetated areas is a big no-no.

Summer socializing out of doors is one of the season’s nicest pleasures and the aroma of food on a hot fire can’t be beat. Give careful thought, however, to where you plan to cook outside. Keep grills, open cooking fires, and campfires located in areas free of dry grass and vegetation. Make sure those items are also used well away from homes, buildings, and forested areas that could succumb to embers scattered by a simple stirring of the coals or by a healthy breeze. It’s wise to keep water on hand to quell flare-ups and spreading flames, and if your cell phone isn’t already close at hand, get it there.

While fireworks and the Fourth go together like hot dogs and mustard, special care must be exercised in any setting that’s not operated by professionals. If you plan to set them off yourself, be sure you know the local ordinances by contacting county or city officials. The local fire department is a good source of information. Recognize and know that fireworks start wildfires. Don’t ignite fireworks, or allow them to travel, over dry grass and vegetation, or into wooded forest areas. Follow all safe practices, both for your personal safety and to prevent injuries to people nearby.

We hope you enjoy this thoroughly American holiday and remember the words of our favorite “spokesbear” – Only YOU can prevent wildfires!

Click here for more tips about Fireworks Safety.

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