From January-October 2020, more than 45,000 wildfires burned across the country. Owning a farm or a ranch means you have many things to protect from a wildfire — from your residence and equipment to your livestock and horses. While wildfires can occur at any time of the year, most occur during the dormant season or during periods of drought.
Wildfires often present unique challenges to ranches and farms that typically do not apply to urban homeowners and neighborhoods. For example, often farmers and ranchers have multiple buildings, hay stacks, fuel storage tanks, livestock, limited water access and distant fire departments. Often starting small and unnoticed, wildfires spread very quickly, making them especially dangerous.
The very best step you can take to help protect your farm or ranch is to take the time to ready yourself, any employees you may have, and your property. Below are a few of the most important wildfire safety precautions:
- Check your insurance coverage
- Protect your land
- Create and maintain fire guards around pastures.
- Create noncombustible areas around spaces where equipment, fuel and hay are stored.
- Check your water supply and add a supply if needed, such as an irrigation ditch or pond.
- Protect your barn and other structures
- Install and maintain smoke detectors.
- Keep barns and other structures free of trash and combustible material.
- Place fire extinguishers in all structures and equipment and check them regularly.
- Use approved fire doors on buildings.
- Keep above-ground fuel storage tanks a minimum of 40 feet from buildings.
- Protect your animals
- Create an evacuation plan for all animals and create an area where you can move them if necessary.
You’ll also want to create and keep a plan in place for your family and homestead. Your family plan should include things like an evacuation and emergency plan and having an emergency supply kit on hand.
Keep yourself up-to-date on changes in conditions in your area. The National Weather Service (NWS) issues a fire weather watch when dangerous fire weather conditions could occur over the upcoming 12 to 72 hours. Being prepared is the first step to take to protect your farm and ranch from a wildfire. Reach out to your local Farm Bureau agent to make sure you have the coverage you need in the event of the unexpected.