How to prepare your home for wildfire season
Preparing for wildfires is everyone’s duty.
PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - With wildfire season rapidly approaching, there are some things we can all do decrease the risk to our lives and property.
Embers falling on sensitive locations such as roofs, gutters, and decks ignite most homes. Embers can travel hundreds of miles ahead of a wildfire and cause spot fires in pine needles and dry vegetation, igniting surrounding combustible structures.
Creating defensive space around your home is key, according to experts. Trees and shrubs can even be used in a fire-resistant landscape if they are spaced properly.
Fire Wise USA recommends the following:
1. HOME IGNITION ZONES To increase your home’s chance of surviving a wildfire, choose fire-resistant building materials and limit the amount of flammable vegetation in the three home ignition zones. The zones include the Immediate Zone: (0 to 5 feet around the house), the Intermediate Zone (5 to 30 feet), and the Extended Zone (30 to 100 feet). 2. LANDSCAPING AND MAINTENANCE To reduce ember ignitions and fire spread, trim branches that overhang the home, porch, and deck and prune branches of large trees up to 6 to 10 feet (depending on their height) from the ground. Remove plants containing resins, oils, and waxes. Use crushed stone or gravel instead of flammable mulches in the Immediate Zone (0 to 5 feet around the house). Keep your landscape in good condition.
2. LANDSCAPING AND MAINTENANCE To reduce ember ignitions and fire spread, trim branches that overhang the home, porch, and deck and prune branches of large trees up to 6 to 10 feet (depending on their height) from the ground. Remove plants containing resins, oils, and waxes. Use crushed stone or gravel instead of flammable mulches in the Immediate Zone (0 to 5 feet around the house). Keep your landscape in good condition.
3. ROOFING AND VENTS Class A fire-rated roofing products, such as composite shingles, metal, concrete, and clay tiles, offer the best protection. Inspect shingles or roof tiles and replace or repair those that are loose or missing to prevent ember penetration. Box in eaves, but provide ventilation to prevent condensation and mildew. Roof and attic vents should be screened to prevent ember entry.
4. DECKS AND PORCHES Never store flammable materials underneath decks or porches. Remove dead vegetation and debris from under decks and porches and between deck board joints.
5. SIDING AND WINDOWS Embers can collect in small nooks and crannies and ignite combustible materials; radiant heat from flames can crack windows. Use fire-resistant siding such as brick, fibercement, plaster, or stucco, and use dual-pane tempered glass windows.
6. EMERGENCY RESPONDER ACCESS Ensure your home and neighborhood have legible and clearly marked street names and numbers. Driveways should be at least 12 feet wide with a vertical clearance of 15 feet for emergency vehicle access.
- Develop, discuss, and practice an emergency action plan with everyone in your home.
- Include details for handling pets, large animals, and livestock.
- Know two ways out of your neighborhood and have a predesignated meeting place.
- Always evacuate if you feel it’s unsafe to stay—don’t wait to receive an emergency notification if you feel threatened from the fire.
- Conduct an annual insurance policy checkup to adjust for local building costs, codes, and new renovations.
- Create or update a home inventory to help settle claims faster.
TALK TO YOUR LOCAL FORESTRY AGENCY OR FIRE DEPARTMENT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE SPECIFIC WILDFIRE RISK WHERE YOU LIVE.
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