After a major wild fire some homes DO survive while many others do not. The ones that do survive are usually because the owners prepared for the high possibility of a fire. If its predictable it is preventable!
While designing your home and landscape keep fire safety in mind. Use fire resistant materials for the roof and exterior of your home or treat wood and flammable materials used in roofs, siding, decking, and trim with a nationally recognized and approved fire retardant chemical. Create a landscape with fire-resistant trees and shrubs (keep in mind that fire-resistant doesn't mean fireproof). Even fire-resistant plants will burn if they arn't maintained. Keep in mind when planting trees, hardwood trees like oaks and most ashes are less flammable then pine, evergreen, eucalyptus and fir trees. Sometimes homeowners will use bark mulch in their landscaping for decoration, however dry bark mulch is very flammable and easily ignited. Instead consider using gravel or decorative rock. For further assistance in selecting fire resistant plants and trees check out this insightful publication.
Create a 30 to 100-foot Safety Zone
Inside this safety zone you should take steps to reduce the potential exposure to flames and radiant heat from possible wildfires. If you live in a pine forest you should have a minimum 100-foot safety zone.
- Mow grass regularly
- Rake leaves, twigs and dead limbs.
- Remove all flammable vegetation.
- Remove leaves and rubbish from under structures.
- Remove vines from the outside structure of home.
- Thin a 15-foot space between tree crowns & remove limbs between 15 feet of the ground.
- Remove dead branches that extend over the roof.
- Prune tree branches within 15 feet of stove pipes or chimney outlets.
- Ask the power company to clear branches from power lines.
- Clear a 10-foot area around propane tanks and barbecue grills.
- Place ashes from stoves, fireplaces & grills in a metal bucket and soak in water for 2 days then bury the cold ashes in mineral soil.
- Stack firewood 100 feet away and uphill from your home.
Protect Your Home
There are also precautions you can take directly in and around your home to prepare for the possibility of a fire.
- Make sure that fire vehicles can get to your home. Clearly mark all entrances and display your address and name.
- Post all fire emergency telephone numbers.
- Regularly clean roof and gutters
- Inspect chimneys at least twice a year and clean them at least once a year.
- Install smoke alarms on each level of your home especially near bedrooms. Test them monthly and replace batteries as needed or at least once a year.
- Teach everyone in your family how to use a fire extinguisher and show them where it is kept.
- Keep a ladder that will reach the roof.
- Have a garden hose that is long enough to reach every area of your home and all structures on the property.
When a Wildfire Threatens
Wildfires usually begin unnoticed but can spread fast and every second counts. If you are warned of a wildfire in your area listen intently to all reports for possible evacuations. Before mandatory evacuation be ready.
- Be ready to leave at a moments notice. Back car into garage facing nearest exit.
- Confine all pets into one room so you can easily find them if you need to evacuate quickly.
- Make arrangements for temporary accommodations at a friends or family's house.
- Listen and watch for air quality reports and health warnings about smoke.
- Keep indoor air clean by closing windows and doors
IF ADVISED TO EVACUATE DO IT IMMEDIATELY
- Wear protective clothing (ie: durable shoes, cotton clothing, long sleeves, pants and a handkerchief to protect your face and breathing)
- Take your disaster supply kit
Disaster Supply Kit Checklist
- Lock your home
- Tell someone when you left and where you are going
- Choose a route away from fire hazards. Watch for changes in the speed and direction of the fire and smoke
Let those who care about you know you are safe
If your community has gone through a disaster, register on the American Red Cross Safe and Well website to let your family and friends know you are safe. You can also register by calling 1866- GET-INFO.
Be ready for wildfires with the official
Red Cross wildfire app on your