(BPT) - Everyone who loves the outdoors knows the impact humans can have on their environment, and this is especially true when it comes to wildfires. According to researchers from Swansea University's College of Science, wildfires destroy 4% of the Earth’s surface each year. It has also been estimated that 84% of all wildfires are caused by humans, according to researchers from the University of Colorado. Rising worldwide temperatures and weather extremes have further increased the incidence of fires. From campers who get outside and explore our forests and parks, to backyard chefs tending the open flames of their grills, responsible use of fire is critical to preventing accidents like those seen around the world in recent years.
This sense of responsibility and a growing global urgency to help combat the devastating effects of wildfires inspired Zippo to take action. As creator of one of the most famous flames of all time, the iconic American brand is intimately aware of the power of fire. Zippo has teamed up with WOODCHUCK USA, creators of sustainably sourced wood-based products, as part of the BUY ONE. PLANT ONE.® program. The partnership means that one tree will be planted for every windproof lighter sold from the Zippo Fight Fire with Fire collection.
The program is part of a long-term vision to support reforestation efforts in the aftermath of fires around the globe, beginning this year in Madagascar. As the fourth largest island in the world, Madagascar has had 90% of its original forests destroyed. Reforestation will create habitats for endangered species, help absorb carbon, halt erosion and flooding — and bring back healthy farming and fisheries.
Lucas Johnson, Senior Brand Manager, Global Marketing at Zippo, states, “Temperatures are at the highest level on record and wildfires are affecting almost every continent on Earth, but unlike most natural disasters, the majority of wildfires are caused by humans. According to National Geographic, in the U.S. alone there are around 100,000 forest fires each year, clearing up to 9 million acres of land. The Zippo windproof lighter gives people the power of portable fire, but with this comes responsibility.”
For individuals using fire, especially in regions susceptible to wildfires, it’s vital to follow practical safety measures. Here are some tips to help prevent wildfires:
Camping and the outdoors
When creating a bonfire, use a pre-made fire pit if available, or make a fire pit cleared of all vegetation with a boundary such as a circle of stones. Remove excess dead leaves or other potentially flammable debris from the area before lighting the fire.
Never leave a fire, lantern or cook stove unattended, especially overnight.
If the weather is windy, don't start a fire — the risk is too high, as the embers can be carried across great distances and risk setting vegetation alight elsewhere.
When you're finished with the fire, grill or stove, be sure to douse it thoroughly with water. Stir the coals or ashes to be sure all heat has been extinguished, and smother the campfire with dirt.
If you see fire that appears unattended or out of control, call 911 or the local park service right away.
In the backyard
Check and follow all local ordinances regarding fires, whether for recreation or burning yard waste.
Make sure the grill or bonfire is not near or underneath branches or other vegetation, or too close to your home.
For a fire pit, clear all grass, dead leaves or other possibly flammable material, and create a clear boundary for the fire using stones or bricks.
Consider fire risk when landscaping and maintaining your lawn and garden. Especially if you live in a wildfire-prone region, consult the National Fire Protection Association's (NFPA) Firewise website for practical fire prevention tips such as using fire-resistant plants and creating a defensible zone around your home.
Consistently remove dead and dry leaves, pine cones and other plant material that could fuel a fire as part of your regular lawn maintenance.
Keep bushes and trees regularly pruned of dead branches.
Don't use fire on a windy day, as the risk for fire spreading is too great.
If celebrating with fireworks, keep water and/or a fire extinguisher handy and spray down nearby grass and other vegetation before lighting fireworks. Be sure to thoroughly douse used fireworks with water. Don't use fireworks at all if the weather is windy or if your area is under a Red Flag Warning.
Making a difference
Following these precautions to use fire responsibly is one way everyone can help prevent devastating wildfires. Every individual has the power to make a positive impact.
To learn more about how Zippo is making a difference and to support Zippo’s efforts to help counter the effects of deforestation caused by wildfires, check out the Zippo Fight Fire with Fire collection.
Take the time to learn how you can contribute to the fight against wildfires in your area and beyond, to help protect the planet for generations to come.