Prepare Your Home
May is National Wildfire Preparedness month, and there are so many things to do now to reduce risk and ensure safety when the next red flag day approaches. This time of year is especially good to take action since the ground has more moisture and temperatures are mild. Acknowledging that ‘fire season’ seems to be year round these days, they do become more frequent and larger in the hot and dry summer and fall months.
Taking focused steps to prepare and reduce risk pay off in times of emergency–from the personal level, to the household, to the neighborhood and community. Collectively, each action can reduce the risk of wildfire destruction and increase our safety.
Wildfire Readiness Video from the Paradise Fire Department
Inspect the Exterior
Starting by taking a close look at the exterior of your home. Fire safety research reveals that making some relatively small changes can yield dramatic results. Here are a few tips from Ready for Wildfire, a resource guide from CALFIRE.
Roofs and Gutters
In wildfire, structure loss is often caused by burning embers landing on the roof, the gutter or in the area immediately surrounding the house. Keeping your roof swept clean and gutters clear from leaves and dry vegetation and debris is an important first step. Roofing material should be fire resistant composite material, clay, tile or metal for the best protection.
Sometimes embers can get swept up into the vents on a house and cause the home to start burning inside. There are a couple of ways to prevent this from happening. By placing a metal mesh on your existing vents, or installing replacement vents that are ember resistant are both relatively low cost upgrades that can greatly increase safety.
Defensible Space in Zone ‘0’
Pay close attention to the things that are within 0-5 feet from your house, sometimes referred to as ‘Zone 0’, or the Ember Resistant Zone. Clear vegetation from that area, and if there are plants there, make sure they are low growing, well watered and cared for. Remove any dead or woody plants or vegetation. Avoid using wood chip mulch and select non-flammable hardscape materials.
- Keep the area under and around decks clear of flammable material. If you have wood patio furniture, or cloth items like cushions or umbrellas, make sure they are easy to move away from the home in case of a red flag warning.
- Keep firewood piles far away from the house and do not store propane tanks or garbage cans within 5 feet of the house.
- Replace wooden gates or fence material within 5 feet of the house and replace with metal or other nonflammable structures.