Living near wild lands and woodland areas is beautiful but it puts you at high risk of fire damage. Follow these steps to protect your family, home, and property.
Plan Your Water Needs
- A portable gas-powered water pump in case the electricity fails.
- Install hose spigots on at least two sides of the house and near remote buildings like garages. Install additional outlets at least 50 feet from the home.
- A garden hose long enough to reach anything that’s burning.
- Secure an outside water source, in case fire fighting elsewhere in your neighborhood sucks the hydrants dry. Do you have a small pond, cistern, well or swimming pool? Then you’ve got ammunition.
Gather Your Fighting Tools
- A ladder as tall as your roof.
- A long garden hose.
- Rake, axe, handsaw or chainsaw, shovel, buckets.
Wild fire destroys hundreds of homes and buildings every year. If you clear flammable vegetation from the vicinity of your structure, you can reduce the risk of destruction by wild fire as much as 70 percent. Follow these tips.
- Build a defensible area around your house of at least 30 feet. If you are on a hillside extend the down hill defensible area: Fire travels quickly uphill.
- Plant fire-resistant shrubs and trees. Hardwood trees like walnut and cherry are less flammable than pine, evergreen, or eucalyptus trees.
- Rake up leaves and dead limbs, clear away brush.
- Thin a 15-foot space between tree crowns, and remove limbs within 15 feet of the ground.
- Ask the Power Company to clear branches from power lines.
- Remove vines from the walls of the home.
- Mow grass regularly.
- Clear a 10-foot area around propane tanks and the barbecue. Place a screen over the grill — use non-flammable material with mesh no coarser than one-quarter inch.
Fire-Proofing Your House
- Build roof and exterior walls of fire-resistant material.
- Treat exposed wood in roofs, siding, decks or trim with UL-approved fire-retardant chemicals.
- Install electrical lines underground if possible.
- Install smoke detectors on every level of your home and near bedrooms.
- Consider building stone walls that can act as heat shields and deflect flames.
- Swimming pools and patios can buffer the house from fire.
- Protective shutters or heavy fire-resistant drapes can stop embers from being
blown into house when flames shatter windows.
- Work on your property regularly. You never know when a disaster will strike.
- Remove leaves and trash from under buildings.
- Regularly dispose of newspapers and rubbish.
- Stack firewood at least 100 feet away and uphill from your home. Use only UL-approved wood stoves.
- Store gasoline, oily rags and other flammable materials in approved safety cans. Place cans in a safe location away from the base of buildings.
- Inspect chimneys at least twice a year. Clean them at least once a year. Keep the dampers in good working order.
Do Not Panic
Be ready to evacuate. Tune your radio to fire reports and listen for the order to evacuate. Don’t be a hero. When fire fighters tell you it’s time to go, they mean it. Until then, get busy and protect your home.
Get Ready to Move
- Wear protective clothing — sturdy shoes, cotton or woolen clothing, long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, gloves and a handkerchief to protect your face.
- Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction
- Shut doors and roll up windows.
- Leave the key in the ignition. Close garage windows and doors, but leave them unlocked.
- Disconnect automatic garage door openers. If you’re sure you have the time, take steps to protect your home inside and out.
- Close windows, vents, doors, Venetian blinds or non-combustible window coverings and heavy drapes. Remove lightweight curtains.
- Shut off gas at the meter. Turn off pilot lights.
- Open fireplace damper. Close fireplace screens.
- Move flammable furniture into the center of the home away from windows
and sliding glass doors.
- Turn on a light in each room to increase the visibility of your home in heavy smoke.
- Seal attic and ground vents with pre-cut plywood or commercial seals.
- Turn off propane tanks.
- Place combustible patio furniture inside.
- Connect the garden hose to outside taps.
- Set up the portable gasoline-powered pump.
- Place lawn sprinklers on the roof and near above-ground fuel tanks. Wet the roof.
- Wet or remove shrubs within 15 feet of the home.
- If you think it’s time to leave, you’re probably right.
- Take your disaster supply kit. Lock your home. Tell someone when you left and where you are going. Watch for changes in the speed and direction of fire and smoke. Choose a route away from fire hazards.
- Just because it’s out doesn’t mean it can’t burn you.
- Take care when re-entering a burned wild land area. Hot spots can flare up
- Check your roof immediately and extinguish any sparks or embers.
- Check your attic for hidden burning sparks and re-check throughout your house
for several hours afterward.
- Contact your insurance agent for an assessor to document the damage.