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Fire safety must be paramount during summer months

Although the area has received sufficient rain this spring and summer to keep wildfires at bay, history tells us that conditions can — and do — change very quickly.

Experts at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources remind us that safety must always be paramount when using fire outside.

While this is true year round, it is especially relevant in the summer months when more of us are recreating outside.

Here are a handful of common-sense safety tips all of us should practice anytime:

≤ Campfire safety. Always thoroughly douse your fire with water before leaving it for the night.

≤ Debris burning. You need to get a permit at Michigan.gov /BurnPermit or from your local municipality before you burn debris. Call 866-922-2876 for a permit in northern Lower Michigan and the Upper Peninsula. Keep your fire at least 10 feet away from logs, stumps or other debris and make sure no branches are hanging overhead.

≤ ‘Firewise’ landscaping. This type of landscaping protects your home or cabin by minimizing the number of shrubs, leaves and trees that are close to the house. You can also learn more about it from the National Fire Protection Association.

≤ Fireworks. There are new laws and restrictions for fireworks and when they can be used. “Nationally, fireworks cause 18,500 fires per year and have injured/or caused the death of 40 people on average,” said Lt. Jason Wicklund, DNR conservation officer. “If you are using fireworks to celebrate this fourth of July, remember that you are responsible for where that firework ends up and the damage it may cause. Also, please take into consideration pets, those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorders and local ordinances that have a time frame on noises (including fireworks).”

So far in 2019, the DNR has fought more than 168 wildfires on over 818 acres around the state.

Let’s do everything we can to keep that number as low as possible.