October 8-14 has been proclaimed as “Fire Prevention Week” and this year’s Fire Prevention Week theme is “Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out!”. Every second counts when homeowners are advised to evacuate an intense, rapidly growing wildfire. By leaving early, residents avoid being caught in fire, smoke, or road congestion. Evacuating the wildfire area early also helps firefighters keep roads clear of congestion, and lets them move more freely to do their job. In support of Fire Prevention Week, the Florida Forest Service, Okeechobee District encourages all residents who live near nature to develop a wildfire plan, discuss it with the whole family and practice it. Plan to have two ways out just in case one is blocked by fire, emergency vehicles, down powerlines, and trees. When developing the plan arrange for a safe haven for your pets and livestock. “Developing and practicing a wildfire escape plan is like building muscle memory,” explains Forest Area Supervisor Trevor Taylor, Florida Forest Service. “That pre-planning is what everyone will draw upon to snap into action and escape as quickly as possible in the event of a wildfire.” Residents should meet up at a predetermined location that is a low-risk area, such as a well-prepared neighbor or relative’s house, a hotel, a Red Cross shelter, or an evacuation center. After the wildfire is suppressed, authorities will announce when it is safe to return home. For more information on wildfire planning and home protection tips, call your local Florida Forest Service or visit FloridaForestService.com. The Florida Forest Service, a division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, manages more than 1 million acres of state forests, provides management assistance on more than 17 million acres of private and community forests, while protecting homes, forestland, and natural resources from the devastating effects of wildfire on more than 26 million acres. Learn more at FloridaForestService.com.