Warmer weather, combined with dry leaves and strong winds, can leave Massachusetts extremely vulnerable to brush fires. These fires can start from something as simple as the improper disposal of a cigarette, the burning of brush in a backyard, or a camp fire. They spread quickly, igniting brush, trees and homes.

The American Red Cross of Massachusetts offers the following tips to help reduce the risk of brush fires:

* Use caution when burning brush -- Clear "fuel" -- dried brush and branches away from the home. Burn brush only when permitted and use extreme caution to ensure safety and control of the fire. When conditions are right, it takes very little for a small brush fire to get out of control.

* Prepare Your Home -- Select building materials and plants that resist fire. Regularly clean your roof and gutters to remove flammable debris. Identify and maintain an adequate water source outside your home to saturate your home's perimeter if needed.

* Make a plan -- Learn about wildfire risks in your area. Talk to everyone in your household about what to do if a wildfire occurs. Select a place for family members to meet outside your neighborhood in case you cannot get home or need to evacuate. Identify two routes out of your neighborhood in case the primary route is blocked.

* Create an Emergency Preparedness Kit -- Pack a first aid kit and essential medications, canned food and manual can opener, bottled water, maps of the area, flashlights and a battery-powered radio with extra batteries.


Include essential legal and identifying documents in your kit in the event that you must quickly evacuate. Set aside household items that can be used as fire tools (e.g. a rake, ax, shovel, bucket, chain or hand saw).

For information on fire safety, visit RedCross.Org/Massachusetts.