How to Prepare Your Home for Wildfire Season
Help protect your home and yard with these wildfire prevention and fireproofing tips to avoid damage to your property.
Wildfires can occur from both natural and manmade causes and can start in remote wilderness areas, such as forests, or even in your backyard. The potential for wildfires is greatest when dry conditions combine with high heat and strong winds. Even if you live somewhere that isn’t susceptible to wildfires, there’s always a possibility of an accidental fire – from activities and sources such as grilling, fire pits, citronella candles, outdoor torches, fireworks, etc. As with house fires, wildfires can cause extensive smoke damage to the exterior part of your home, your yard/lawn and leave you with a major fire cleanup job on your hands. However, there are wildfire prevention and fireproofing measures you can take to reduce the risk of a blaze from igniting at your home, or at the very least, ways you can minimize how much fire damage will occur if a wildfire breaks out.
Fireproofing Your Home and Yard
There are multiple ways you can help decrease the risk of fire damage to both the interior and exterior parts of your home with fireproofing techniques, including reducing the amount of flammable material in and around your home and using fire-resistant materials for construction and landscaping. Some tasks are quick and easy and any homeowner can do, while others may be best left to professionals—for instance, hiring a roofing contractor or HVAC specialist to do a thorough inspection of your roof, eaves, air ducts/vents—to ensure these parts of your home are in good working order and not vulnerable to fire damage.
As your home’s first line of defense against potential fire damage, your yard is at the top of the list for wildfire prevention during the hot, dry season. Fireproofing your lawn starts literally from the ground up – by watering the grass regularly (during early morning or late evening hours) and keeping your yard clear of any flammable material. You can also include wildfire prevention techniques into your landscape design by introducing certain varieties of fire-resistant plants and trees that can be strategically planted to reduce the spread of fire to your home. Some examples include aloe, roses, honeysuckle and hardwoods.
- Create a “defensible space” around your home that extends at least 30 feet away from buildings and structures. This space acts as a buffer between your house and the vegetation (grass, shrubs, plants, trees) that surround it, and helps slow or stop the spread of wildfire by protecting your property from direct flame contact or radiant heat.
- Clear all flammable debris from your yard, including pine needles, dead or dry grass, and leaves and twigs, and relocate firewood piles away from the house. Keep your grass mowed, bushes and shrubs trimmed, and prune any tree limbs that are near or touching your house, roof or chimney.
- Make sure there is plenty of vertical and horizontal space between the grass, bushes and trees, as it is crucial in reducing the spread of wildfire. Remove tree limbs that are within six feet of the ground and create more clearance between trees and shrubs that are on hills or slopes to keep vegetation from being too close.
OUTSIDE STRUCTURES, PATIOS AND GRILLS
Wildfire prevention isn't just for your yard, landscaping and vegetation. You should also make sure to protect the outside areas of your home such as decks, porches, patios, grilling areas, sheds and storage units.
- Use caution any time you use fire – whether it's when you're grilling, using fire pits or candles and torches. Never leave any of these items unattended. Properly dispose of charcoal briquettes and hot ashes and always make sure outdoor fires are fully extinguished.
- Keep charcoal, gas grills and propane tanks at least 15 feet away from a house or other structures and always have a fire extinguisher or hose nearby. Make sure everyone in your household knows how to use a fire extinguisher; keep one outside near the grill and one inside in the kitchen.
- Store flammable or combustible materials away from the house, grill or other potential hazardous areas. Keep these items in approved safety containers when possible.
ROOFING, EAVES AND WINDOWS
Roofs are one of the most vulnerable part of a house during a fire, so it's imperative to implement fireproofing techniques or use fire-resistant shingles (asphalt, metal or tile) to decrease the risk of flames affecting your home. The same idea applies to siding – choose a low or non-flammable material (such as fiber cement or stucco siding) over shingle and wood.
- Secure your home’s eaves and vent openings by installing screens (made from material such as metallic mesh) to prevent embers and ash from entering your home and causing fire damage.
- Avoid extensive fire cleanup by keeping gutters and valleys clean and free of debris. Chimneys and stovepipes should be covered with a non-combustible metal screen with openings no larger than 1/2-inch.
- Install or replace windows with a heat-resistant glass or other material to decrease the chance of fire entering your home. Smaller, tempered units are more stable than large windows. If you have shutters, consider upgrading to non-combustible models that can be closed quickly in an emergency.
Wildfire Prevention Safety Tips
The most important thing to remember during wildfire season—and with any type of fire, any time of year—is safety first. It’s imperative that you have an evacuation plan in place in the event that you and your family will need to leave your home quickly. Wildfires are dangerous, unpredictable and can spread quickly. You can rebuild a home and replace belongings during the fire cleanup process, but your well-being is always top priority when it comes to fire safety.
The information and advice contained in this article is intended as a general guide for informational purposes only. It does not take into account your personal situation. While we at Resolve have significant experience and history operating in the home restoration industry and working closely with construction contractors, we are not licensed as a general or specialty contractor. We encourage you to consider the information we’ve provided but urge you not to rely upon it in place of appropriate professional advice from a licensed, experienced construction contractor.