Preparing for a wildfire
July 7, 2013
Tips for homeowners
Reduce the risk of your home and property becoming fuel for a wildfire by following these tips:
■ Clear leaves and other debris from gutters, eaves, porches and decks. This prevents embers from igniting your home. Around the house, trees and shrubs that are stressed, diseased, dead or dying should be removed so they do not become a fuel source for potential fires.
■ Remove dead vegetation from under your deck and within 10 feet of the house.
■ Remove anything stored under decks or porches.
■ Screen or box in areas below patios and decks with wire mesh to prevent debris and combustible materials from accumulating.
■ Remove flammable materials (firewood stacks, propane tanks, dry vegetation) within 30 feet of your home’s foundation and outbuildings, including your garages and sheds. If it can catch fire, don’t let it touch your house, deck or porch. Stack firewood away and uphill from your home.
■ Wildfire can spread to tree tops. If you have trees on your property, prune so the lowest branches are 6 to 10 feet from the ground.
■ Keep your lawn hydrated and maintained. If it is brown, cut it down to reduce fire intensity. Dry grass and shrubs are fuel for wildfire.
■ Don’t let debris and lawn cuttings linger. Dispose of these items quickly to reduce fuel for fire.
■ Inspect shingles or roof tiles. Replace or repair those that are loose or missing to prevent ember penetration. Choosing the right roof also is important. Fire-resistant material that is rated Class C or higher should be used when building a house in or near forests or grasslands. Avoid choosing flammable materials such as wood or shake shingles.
■ Cover exterior attic vents with metal wire mesh no larger than 1/8 inch to prevent sparks from entering the home.
■ Enclose under-eave and soffit vents or screens with metal mesh to prevent ember entry.
When wildfire threatens, you won’t have time to shop or search for supplies. Assemble a disaster supplies kit with items you may need if advised to evacuate. Store these supplies in sturdy, easy-to-carry containers such as backpacks, duffle bags or trash containers. Include:
■ A three-day supply of water (one gallon per person per day) and food that won’t spoil.
■ One change of clothing and footwear per person and one blanket or sleeping bag per person.
■ A first aid kit that includes your family’s prescription medications.
■ Emergency tools including a battery-powered radio, flashlight and plenty of extra batteries.
■ An extra set of car keys and a credit card, cash or traveler’s checks.
■ Sanitation supplies.
■ Special items for infant, elderly or disabled family members.
■ An extra pair of eyeglasses.
■ Keep important family documents in a waterproof container. Assemble a smaller version of your kit to keep in the trunk of your car.
Source: U.S. Fire Administration