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Pay attention in dry season because your outdoor fun could be deadly
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News Story
Updated: 12/23/2012 06:02:21PM

Pay attention in dry season

because your outdoor fun could be deadly

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Yes, we got a little moisture recently. But still, don’t ignore warnings from fire officials about the threat of wildfires.

Consider it “winter cleaning.” Or “dry season protection.”

And now that winter is here, we can’t expect a lot more rain. Good for beach-lovers and campers but consider the downside.

“Winter holidays provide a great opportunity for Floridians to enjoy time with friends and family outdoors,” said Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam. “Whether it’s a bonfire or yard work, it is our responsibility to be good stewards as we recreate and be careful with fire outdoors.”

In the fall and winter months, cold fronts move through the state and dry out vegetation. As a result, the underbrush is extremely vulnerable to wildfire.

Late November saw freezing temperatures reach from the Panhandle down into parts of central Florida.

These freezing temperatures dry out the grasses and small brush making them more likely to catch on fire.

Relative humidity below 35 percent, lack of rainfall for two weeks or longer and strong dry winds are all components that create extreme fire danger.

Any fire that starts during these weather conditions could get out of control and spread quickly.

Fire officials are sending out warnings. Among their suggestions:

• Don’t toss lit cigarettes. It’s illegal to throw butts from a vehicle anytime. It’s particularly stupid now.

• Clear flammable vegetation around your home. Keep a zone of 2-3 feet.

• Clean pine needles and leaves from the roof and gutters.

• Don’t leave piles of dead yard waste, bush and tree branches in lots.

• Make sure home smoke alarms are working. (Actually, that’s always smart.) It’s the same drill every year. Wise to pay attention, just in case. For more tips, go to