Every year, especially in the summer, we hear about fires that turn to ashes thousands acres of forest, cause great material damage, even loss of human lives. Beyond the natural causes of a fire, such as a lightning, most of the causes have to do with man.
Greece belongs to the relatively poor in forest European countries and is the poorest in the Balkans. The total forest area of our country is 25.124.180 acres and covers 19,6% of its total surface area.
Attica is the hardest hit by fire prefecture of the country. An average of 83 fires occur each year and 43.117 acres of forest land and pastures are burnt down (source: Ministry of Environment and Energy).
Human negligence is the No 1 cause of forest fires in our country. But how can a fire start out of nowhere? Very easily, if we are not extremely careful while being in nature. And what do we have to watch out for, especially in the summer, when there is severe drought and/or strong winds?
- Not to throw the cigarette bud on the ground knowing that it is still burning… Cigarettes are the first cause of wildfires due to our negligence.
- Not to burn garbage or yard waste in the countryside.
- Avoid outdoor activities that cause sparks (welding, use of cutting wheel, etc.).
- Not to light fires while being in forest or in places where there are dry weeds, especially when air blows.
- Avoid outdoor activities that cause sparks (welding, wheel use, etc.).
- Not to leave garbage in the forest, as there is a risk of ignition.
- Not to park our vehicle in places where there are dry weeds. The vehicle’s catalytic converter is maintained overheated for a long time, resulting a serious fire hazard.
The forest is a source of life for our planet. It’s our oxygen. It absorbs harmful carbon dioxide, retains rainwater, enriches the aquifer, prevents soil erosion, balances extreme temperatures, holds tons of dust, reduces harmful radiation, absorbs noise, it is the home for many animals and birds and a great destination for nature lovers.
What can we do when we see a fire at its beginning? The first choice, of course, is to shed water. Alternatively, we can shed soil on the fire or “knock” it from the sides with branches or other objects. If the fire is big, we should immediately call the Fire Service (199) and of course to safely move away the soonest possible. The call to this number is free of charge. In case our mobile phone shows “emergency calls” or “off-net” we call 112. Note that the phone booths do not require the use of a calling card to make such a call.
Volunteering is a big helping hand in the fight to protect our forests. Every year, hundreds of volunteer firefighters, aged between 18 to 55, who have previously received the necessary training, put themselves at the disposal of the Fire Brigade, either as “combatants” or as machinist-drivers, in order to help save our forest wealth.
Their help is priceless and worth imitating, as forest protection is all about us. Nature cannot prevent a fire, but we can!
Enjoy and protect nature …it’s good for you!