Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to travel to Idaho to view the August 21 solar eclipse – right in the middle of fire season. The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) has some simple tips to avoid accidentally starting a wildfire during your road trip.
The majority of wildfires in Idaho are started by us humans. Driving in your car can be the source of several ways those fires start, whether it’s hanging metal hitting the road or throwing out lit cigarettes.
Here are four things to do while you’re on the road to see the solar eclipse:
- Before leaving, look under your car and check for hanging parts. Mufflers often get knocked loose and can hang low to the ground. If you see something hanging down, tie it up. These parts can skip on pavement and shower sparks on grasses alongside the roadway.
- If you are towing a trailer or camper, ensure safety chains are fastened and not dragging. Bumps in the road can cause hanging chains to hit the ground and spark.
- Don’t drive or park on tall grass. The exterior of your engine or exhaust can get up to 2,800°F. Contact with dry grass can easily start a fire. See this video PSA from U.S. Forest Service.
- Don’t throw out lit cigarettes. When you’re done with a cigarette, make sure the end is completely put out and cool to the touch. Otherwise, you’re throwing a small fire onto a big pile of tinder.
ITD hopes everyone traveling to see the eclipse has a fun and safe time. By checking your car before you leave and making smart choices on the road, you can help ensure this experience stays wildfire free.