Even if your home isn’t nestled comfortably near the woods, it could be at a high risk for fire damage if you live in a wildfire area. But with the right preparations, starting with proper insurance and ending with an emergency plan, you can protect your home and family from the harms of wildfires.
Have Fire InsuranceThis is something you need to think about long before a wildfire strikes. If you live in a wildfire area, it’s essential that you protect your financial well-being with fire insurance, which will compensate you in the event that your house is destroyed by a fire.
Yes, it will cost you, but the monthly payments pale in comparison to the costs of losing your home without proper insurance. The fire insurance should cover the primary dwelling, as well as sheds, pool houses, or garages, detached or otherwise. It should also include protection for your personal belongings and valuables. Make sure it also covers the cost of additional living expenses, such as a stay in a hotel after a fire, or the cost of boarding for your pets.
Have a Fire Resistant RoofIf a fire is nearby, embers could float towards your property, and will most likely land on your roof. A flammable roof can result in the complete loss of your home, but a roof made from noncombustible material like asphalt, metal, or slate is far better for the overall protection of your house.
If you have wooden shingles, you should have them replaced as soon as reasonably possible; if you can’t afford re-roofing the house, at least have the roof treated with a fire-retardant chemical.
Lock Embers OutEven the best-protected homes are filled with flammable objects. Carpet, furniture, books, and cabinets can all go up in flames if the fire is able to enter the home. This means you need to take proactive measures to ensure that embers don’t enter into your house.
Exterior vents are one of the ways embers can enter the home, so cover them with a fire-resistant material, such as metal. Embers can also find their way inside through openings on the roof top, so seal and close any openings.
Windows are another danger point. Heat can melt plastic and cause glass to shatter, which will allow embers into the home. To help fire proof your home, install double-paned and tempered-glass windows, which are more capable of withstanding the heat.
Spark arrestors, which are installed in chimneys, are important tools for preventing fire damage. These little machines are actually meant to keep sparks from exiting your home and creating a fire, and they are mandatory in many areas that are affected by wildfires.
There are many types of spark arrestors, so check with a professional to see which one is right for your home.
Landscaping to Reduce Wildfire SmokeA strategy known as defensible space management is a common way to reduce the chances of wildfires destroying your home. This is a surrounding space between flammable materials and your home. You should consider the management zones as three categories.
The first is the area immediately surrounding your home, the second is a transitional zone, and the final zone is the perimeter of your property.
Throughout these zones, you can reduce the chances of wildfire damage by following firewise landscaping techniques: use native vegetation, using non-flammable ground covers, and keeping trees spaced at least 10 feet apart. Throughout the year, keep trees, bushes, and shrubs well pruned to reduce the chances of fires in your yard, and make sure there are no branches above your roof.
Pine tree needles can create a bed of flammable material, so rake them every year to reduce the chances of fire damage.
FEMA recommends that you create a 30-foot safety zone where you should keep plants, trees, and bushes to a minimum. If you live on a hill, they say, the 30-foot zone should be increased on the downhill side, as fire tends to spread uphill.
Avoid having sundecks and porches with vegetation underneath. If the bushes and shrubs below your wood deck catch fire, the deck itself is sure to follow, and that means your home will be put at risk.
Reconsider Your StorageIt’s not just brush that fuels wildfires. Flammable materials such as gas, propane, and firewood can help a wildfire reach your home, so you should create a strategy that keeps these items safe. For example, you should have a 15-foot perimeter around all gas grills, and firewood should be stacked at least 100 feet from the home.
Proper storage is an important part of protecting your home from wildfires. If you have an exterior shed, make sure it is a safe distance from both trees that could catch fire, as well as the home. If a fire is on its way, remove any gas cans, propane tanks, or other flammable chemicals that could create a problem for your home.
Have an Emergency Plan in Case a Fire OccursNo matter how well you fire proof your home, there is always a chance that the worst could happen. You and your family need to be prepared to handle the situation quickly and get to safety.
Your family should have an evacuation plan, and there should be multiple escape routes that are clearly communicated to everyone in the house. For every bedroom, there should be at least two escape routes, usually either through the main exit or a window.
Make sure there is a meeting location where the entire family will meet. This location, of course, needs to be about 100 feet from the home, but not in an area that is difficult to reach.
Prepare an emergency kit that contains first-aid supplies and survival essentials. No, you won’t have to survive in the woods for months, but having non-perishable food and drinkable water for at least a day will be extremely helpful.
Your emergency kit should include flashlights with batteries, blankets, and a spare set of keys for your vehicles, because you likely won’t be able to reach the main set during a fire.
Remember, in the event of a wildfire, you may need to evacuate the area entirely, so always be prepared and don’t hesitate if the local authorities call for evacuation.
In the end, the safety of your family is far more important than your house.
Air Purifiers Can Reduce the Harms of Wildfire SmokeWildfires can destroy your home, but even if you house is safe from the flames, it could be exposed to poor air quality caused by smoke and soot. To ensure you have clean, healthy indoor air, you need to take many precautions, including using an air purifier with a high efficiency air filter.
Air purifiers can remove many of the worst pollutants, including dust, dander, pollen, and speed up smoke odor removal. Browse out selection to find the right purifier for your specific needs.