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Grass Fire Safety Tips for the Dry Season

Updated on December 13, 2013

I used to have preconceived ideas about what I would grab if we had a house fire. I would want my family pictures, my family Bible, my computer, and of course, my kids, my husband, and my dogs and cats.

In my mind, I would rush through the house yelling for everyone to get out and grab the things I wanted to save.

In my mind, all would be organized as if I have a shopping cart filling it with the things I want to save.

My family, each with a family pet tucked under their arms, would be calmly filing out to our spot in the yard that we have agreed to meet in our fire safety plan.

It would all be a smooth operation, and I would have all that I have always cherished.

Hmmm... What's wrong with this "picture"?

One of the Fire Engines Passing Our Front Yard
One of the Fire Engines Passing Our Front Yard | Source

No Burn Warning

Well, the reality of a real fire threw my ideas out the window. My son and daughter-in-law had come to our house to drop off their dogs so we could all go to a pool party together. We knew we would be out late, so they were going to spend the night with us. It is close to July 4th, so when planning the party, we thought we would have fireworks for the kids. Though my kids are adults, they still love their fireworks. The 2012 summer has been exceptionally hot and dry is Southwest Missouri. So a text from our host went out to all invited guests, “No fireworks. It is too dry.” I had to argue with my 19 year old daughter, who was upset because she was just getting ready to go with her 26 year old brother to the firework stand. Her dad and I said, “Use your common sense. Look how dry it is out there.” I was saying these things to her, but I didn’t really think there would be a fire. After all, we had lived through many dry July 4th’s . Reluctantly, she accepted the "no firework" ban, and she and her brother did not go buy any fireworks.

We loaded up our cars with towels, food, and swimsuits, and headed to the pool party a mile away from our house. Between our houses is a field, and it is actually probably a quarter to half mile as the crow flies. Once we got there, we girls set up the food in the pool side cabana then went inside and changed into our swimsuits. It was hot and we were ready to swim.


Things Get Serious Quick

My daughter burst into the house and said, “There’s a fire in the field! Everyone out of the house!” We ran out of the house in swimsuits and flip flops, cell phones in hand. The guys and several neighbors were lined up around the fire’s edge with wet towels, a garden hose, and several buckets of water trying to put out a fire that had been set by the one and only bottle rocket that one of the kids had lit. It was obvious with the wind and high, dry grass that the fire was not going to be contained, and the fire department had been called.

My cell phone rings. “Susan, it’s Lacy [our neighbor]. I went to your house, but no one answered. There is smoke coming over the ridge and the wind is blowing it in our direction.”

“Lacy, I am on the other side of the ridge and the fire department has just shown up. I think they will have it under control before it reaches our houses.” We hung up, but Lacy was not consoled.

A minute later my cell phone rings again. It’s Lacy. “Susan, the fire is almost to the road.”

“What? That is quite a way from the ridge. The fire is moving much faster than I thought. I’ll be right there.”


Reality Hitting Home

The guys were still in the field. We girls in swimsuits and flip flops jumped in the cars and headed to my house. Holy crap, the heat from the fire was unbelievable. The fire was almost to the fence line full of trees with dry leaves. It would only take a spark from the blowing wind over the burning field to catch our yard on fire. The neighbors had their garden hose out and were spraying down the embankment across the road. The fire was moving north and away from their house but straight towards ours. We sprung into action.

Fortunately, we had been watering our backyard to get the grass seed to grow after some dirt work. We had at least four long garden hoses. Our house sets quite a ways off the road, but we have a lot of dry grass that could have over taken us. I called my husband, who was still in the field on the other side. “The fire is to the road right in front of the house. Come home, NOW!”


During a Fire, Organization is Key

I was so glad to see him show up with our son and my husband’s brother. My husband is a retired career Army Engineer Operations Officer who has pretty much been in more dangerous situations than I care to think about. He took control. Several strangers had stopped and were getting in the way. He sent us girls into the house to wet down towels and had all the guys on hose duty. The rest of the people were told to “Get the hell out of the way and out of the smoke.”

While we were in my house, all the fire alarms went off. My husband ran in, “Grab the pups, get into the cars and pull up through the yard to the neighbors. Everyone, go South, now!” We didn’t realize we couldn’t use the road because of the heat and smoke. My sister-in-law and I were handing pups to each person, and we were the last out of the house. The cars were gone. The engulfing smoke was yellowish tan and we couldn’t see through it. I pulled her back into the house, and we ran out the back door with wet towels over our heads, and we ran in a crouched position. Our lungs were burning by the time we got to the neighbors.

Fire trucks and Rescue Teams were all over the field and moving up and down the road spraying everything down. The guys were finally able to pull back with the garden hoses. The fire had been stopped.

"Safety Rules"

There was not one regret on my part about not grabbing any of the things I always thought I did not want to live without. When at the neighbors, I called out every name of each person to make sure they were all there. They were, and I only felt relief for our safety. The house and what it contained are only things that could mostly be replaced, but I couldn’t replace one loved one or pet. When the panic subsided, my heart swelled with thankfulness that they were all accounted for.

Fire Safety Rules for a Dry Season

  • Have a garden hose close, and if you have a big yard, have at least 4
  • Have 5 gallon buckets
  • Have a fire extinguisher and make sure everyone in the house knows how to use it
  • Have a fire safety plan for as many scenarios as possible
  • Have towels and/or blankets ready to wet down
  • Stay low if you are in or near a fire and run out of the smoke
  • Do not go back for material items
  • Have several different places to gather depending on where the fire is and which way the wind is blowing
  • Don’t stop to question; just get away from the fire

Causes of Fire During a Dry Season

  • fireworks
  • camp fires
  • a mower's blade hitting a rock creating a spark
  • throwing a cigarette out the window of a car or throwing it on the dry ground
  • a dragging muffler that creates sparks
  • abuse of matches or lighters
  • spontaneous combustion (many hay barns go up in flames this way)


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    • sholland10 profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Holland 

      5 years ago from Southwest Missouri

      BDA, that is so sad. I do not remember it ever being so dry. It is just hard to gage these things, and we just have to be aware of our surroundings.

      Thanks for dropping by!

    • Bedbugabscond profile image

      Melody Trent 

      5 years ago from United States

      This is such an important topic. A house near hear was burned to the ground on the 4th weekend. The cause was improper use of fireworks. I am not sure why people did not think about the dry weather when they were lighting their fireworks!

    • sholland10 profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Holland 

      5 years ago from Southwest Missouri

      Hi Bill! This happened on June 30th. I know, it really does scare you to death. We were very fortunate not to have lost anything. I just never dreamed it would move so fast and get out of hand so quickly.

      I look at the wild fires in the West and feel for those people and firefighters. I GET it now.

      I'm so glad you dropped by! :-)

    • sholland10 profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Holland 

      5 years ago from Southwest Missouri

      Hi Christy! Yes, thankfully, we are all okay and doing well. I worried about smoke inhalation for all who were helping without masks.

      And absolutely a huge THANK YOU goes out to our firefighters and rescue teams. What an awesome group of people! :-)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      When did this happen? I didn't see this hub until today! I sure hope everything is okay. What a mess and hassle! We had a shed burn down once; scared the hell out of us in the middle of the night. I am so happy it wasn't worse!

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Wow, what an experience. I am glad you are all okay Susan! I agree, hats off to the firemen and women for their important work.

    • sholland10 profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Holland 

      6 years ago from Southwest Missouri

      Hey Kelly! It was pretty scary and didn't go the way I had anticipated. We were very fortunate.

      Yes, Sam does a great job with pictures. She always seems to capture the best scenes. I did not get to my camera/phone fast enough to get this great picture of the guys (toward the end of using the hose on the embankment) with Sam texting while sitting on a bucket right behind them. LOL She had worked hard up to that point but had to take a text break. LOL

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 

      6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Oh my gosh! Susan I can not believe I missed this piece!

      I am so glad you are all stressful that must have been. I told my kids too - not one firework! No way - not even so much as a sparkler. I was afraid I would go down in history as the lady who burned the town down in 2012.

      Hey Sam did a great job with those photos - they are beautiful shots of a crazy disaster!

    • sholland10 profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Holland 

      6 years ago from Southwest Missouri

      Thank you, Everyone, for your kind words of support. We were so fortunate not to lose our home. The strangest things run through your mind when you are under stressful conditions, none of which I expected. I just want my family and pets safe. I also kept getting the flash scenes of when they fought the fires to save Drogeda in THE THORNBIRDS... Wild, I know. My mind raced.

      My prayer is that everyone has a plan and stays safe. We are so dry in many areas of the world right now, plus you never know what can create a fire.

      Thank you all for dropping by, commenting, sharing, and voting. You're the best! :-)

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      6 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Glad that all of you are safe. Though I haven't had a brush with house fire or fire of any sorts just reading your account makes me understand the route bush fires take are really unpredictable. they are so much dependent on external factors.

      The best thing as you say would be to make as many alternate getaway plans as feasible beforehand and each member of the household should know about them.

      At this time the safety of life is what matters most. Great safety tips.

      Very useful hub.

      Up, useful and shared.

    • alocsin profile image


      6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Wise words especially for the tinderbox that is Southern California. Clearing brush is also a good preventative. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      6 years ago

      An excellent article for this summer, especially with all the fire concerns across the nation. I would also pick the items you mentioned to take first out of the home -- especially family. Great tips on what to do in case of a fire. Voted up and shared.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      6 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Happy you and your family are safe, plus your pets. Fires are so scary. Your article is very good. Thank you for sharing.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      6 years ago from United States

      I see all these homes on the news being destroyed by fire and it is heartbreaking. I am sorry that happened to you. Many years ago we were near a spreading fire and it was frightening. Fortunately for us, the fire was put out when still a pretty good distance away. I guess you don't know what you will do until you actually face the situation. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    • fpherj48 profile image


      6 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Well, Susan, you succeeded in getting my heart rate to it's limit. Your experience has given me a fright, reading imagine you living it, is beyond my desire to envision. Fire IS so fast and furious, causing utter destruction.

      The one and only move at the first hint of smoke or fire, is for HUMANS to get out, away and quickly as possible.....grab pets ...and worry of nothing else.

      We have 3 professional firefighters in my circle of family and close friends. Just from listening to them, I know they would approve of your list of Fire Safety Rules...and commend you for being proactive. I thank you for this very sobering and factual info. UP++ Peace.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 

      6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thank goodness you and your family are safe and sound. Fires are so scary. I think we all do the same thing ... think about what we'd grab if there was a fire. There's never enough time to grab anything.

      We have a few crazy neighbors who are always having bonfires and it makes us a little nervous. Hopefully while the burn ban is on they'll obey it.

      Voted and shared.

    • sholland10 profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Holland 

      6 years ago from Southwest Missouri

      Moonlake, hopefully you live away from people, but I guess that is not guarantee. I mean look at the fires in Colorado. How horrible!! I hope you never have that experience!

      Thanks so much for dropping by, voting, and sharing. :-)

    • moonlake profile image


      6 years ago from America

      How saary. We live in the woods and could easily go up in flames it was so dry here last week. This week we got storms and everything is wet again. I have never been in a fire and hope I never will be or any of my family. Great hub good information. Voted Up and Shared.


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