Protect your home against wildfire damage

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While wildfires are more frequent in the West, recent events have demonstrated that this is clearly a nationwide problem. This is because more of us are living in rural areas closer to nature. These areas are more prone to wildfires and that means our homes are at risk. No home is fireproof, but by taking the necessary precautions, your home has a better chance of surviving such a catastrophe.

So, what can you do to protect yourself, your home and property from wildfires? Here are some tips for preparing your home and yard to survive a wildfire.

Defensible space

Create a zone around your house that will slow the wildfire down and possibly direct it around your home. To do this, you must view your yard as a fuel source. Fire will only burn if fuel is present. Fuel can be your landscaping, woodpiles, decks, etc. To create your defensible space, take the following steps within 30 feet of your home, 50 feet if you live in a heavily treed area or 100 feet if your home is on a hillside. If you live in California, a minimum of 100 feet is required.

  • Introduce more native vegetation.
  • Space trees at least 10 feet apart.
  • Remove dead or dying trees and shrubs.
  • Keep trees and shrubs pruned. Branches should be a minimum of 6 feet from the ground and shrubs under trees should be no more than 18 inches high.
  • Mow your lawn regularly and dispose promptly of cuttings and debris.
  • Maintain your irrigation system.
  • Clear your roof, gutters and eaves of debris.
  • Trim branches so they do not extend over roof or near the chimney.
  • Move firewood and storage tanks 50 feet away from home and clear areas at least 10 feet around them.
  • Store flammable liquids properly.
  • Do not connect wooden fencing directly to your home.
  • Keep the grounds around your home free of pine needles.

Build or retrofit with non-flammable materials

If the wildfire gets to the house, another line of defense is the type of materials used on your home’s exterior. Use the following guidelines to best protect your home:

  • Use only non-combustible roofing materials.
  • Box in the eaves, fascias, soffits and subfloors with fire resistant materials like treated wood, reducing the vent sizes.
  • Apply 1/4” non-combustible screening to all vent or eave openings.
  • Install spark arresters in chimneys.
  • Enclose the undersides of decks with fire-resistant materials.
  • Cover exterior walls with fire resistant materials like stucco, stone, or brick. (Vinyl siding can melt and is not recommended).
  • Use double paned or tempered glass for all exterior windows.v
  • Install noncombustible street signs.
  • Make sure your your street address is visible from the street.

Create a Plan

  • Become familiar with your community’s disaster preparedness plans and create a family plan. Identify escape routes from your home and neighborhood and designate an emergency meeting place for your family to reunite if you become separated.
  • Put together an emergency kit that includes first aid supplies; a portable NOAA weather radio; basic tools; a flashlight; work gloves; fresh batteries for each piece of equipment; clothing: blankets; baby items; prescription medications; extra car and house keys; extra eyeglasses; credit cards and cash; important documents, including insurance policies.
  • Use this Homeowner's Checklist to get tips to make your home fire safe.

A well prepared home has the greatest chance of surviving a wildfire. For more information about protecting your family and home from wildfires:
National Fire Protection Aassociation
FireWise Communities
National Interagency Fire Center

Information provided the Institute for Business & Home Safety. The Institute for Business & Home Safety’s mission is to reduce the social and economic effects of natural disasters and other property losses by conducting research and advocating improved construction, maintenance and preparation practices.

The information and suggestions presented range from simple weekend tasks to involved projects that may require professional assistance. Before starting on any activity, make sure you are comfortable with the required skill level. If you are uncertain, contact a professional. Report any property damage to your insurance agent or company representative immediately after a wildfire or other natural disaster and make temporary repairs to prevent further damage.

In the process of preparing your home and yard to survive a wildfire, be sure to review your Auto and Home insurance policies with your Farmer's agent so that you can discuss coverage with your geographic location in mind. Call today for a no-hassle home and auto insurance quote.