OKLAHOMA CITY -- As firefighters continue to monitor the wildfire situation in Oklahoma City, the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) wants residents to be informed and safe if those fires start back up.
According to the OEM, wildfires are often caused by human activity. High winds and dry conditions can set the stage for potentially severe fires. The greatest single cause is when burning debris is not properly contained and sparks or burning trash blow into the air.
Oklahomans can help prevent fires if they:
•Be careful when pulling off a road or driving into a field. Hot catalytic converters can ignite vegetation.
•Avoid burning trash. Even a barrel covered with a screen can allow a spark to escape, igniting nearby vegetation.
•Do not use fireworks during holidays.
•If you smoke in your car, extinguish cigarettes in vehicle ashtrays. Never toss a cigarette out of a car window, and don't put cigarettes out on the ground.
•Keep a fire extinguisher and water handy when working outdoors with equipment that gets hot, or involves sparks, such as welding equipment. Water down outdoor work areas in advance if possible.
If a wildfire does start in your area, follow this advice:
•Place connected garden hoses on all sides of the house for emergency use.
•Know all emergency exits from your house.
•Learn all routes leading out of your neighborhood.
As fires actually approach, take the following actions:
•Park your car facing the direction of escape.
•Shut off gas at the meter. Only a qualified professional can safely turn the gas back on.
•Turn off propane tanks.
•Place combustible patio furniture inside.
If advised to evacuate, do so immediately. Choose a route away from the fire hazard and be alert to changes in the speed and direction of fire and smoke.