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Drought index rises

Posted On: March 19, 2020

Drought index rises

With no rain in sight, Volusia County Fire Rescue is asking residents to practice fire safety in and around their homes.

Volusia County’s Keetch-Byram Drought Index is 361, up from 190 on Jan. 15. The drought index measures soil dryness on a scale of 1 to 800, with one being saturation and 800 being desert-dry.

“We haven’t had significant rainfall in several weeks, and vegetation throughout the county is drying out,” noted Volusia County Fire Chief Howard Bailey. “We will review the weather every morning and set the response levels accordingly in conjunction with the Florida Forest Service.”

The Firewalker Team, a group of Volusia County firefighters who specialize in brush fires, has been put on alert for possible call-out.

Bailey urges residents to be cautious with outdoor activities and offer these wildfire safety tips:

Practice wildfire safety

  • Do not discard cigarettes from moving vehicles.
  • Do not park a hot car or operate all-terrain vehicles on dry grass.
  • Check lawnmowers and farm equipment for properly working spark arresters.
  • Extinguish fires when cooking outdoors, and never leave fires unattended.

Protect your home

  • Design and landscape your home with fire safety in mind. Allow a 30-foot buffer of non-combustible material around your home.
  • Use non-combustible materials on the roof and clean the roof and gutters regularly.
  • Teach family members how to use a fire extinguisher. Test smoke detectors regularly.
  • Inspect chimneys twice a year and clean them once a year.
  • Rake leaves and dead limbs and twigs. Clear flammable vegetation.
  • Have a garden hose long enough to reach any area of your home and property.

When wildfire threatens

  • Listen to the media or a weather radio for civil emergency messages about where the danger is.
  • Prepare your family, pets and supplies in case you have to evacuate.
  • If told to evacuate, do so immediately.
  • If evacuating, tell someone you are leaving and where you are going. Drive away from fire hazards and listen to public safety officials.

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