The latest string of wildfires in California have torched over 688,000 acres and destroyed more than 2,000 structures. If that wasn’t bad enough, more than 40 people have been killed by these fires since last fall.
Wildfires are certainly a dangerous hazard in the Golden State thanks to the dry heat that most of the state experiences, especially during hotter times of the year. In light of these staggering numbers, it’s vital for homeowners to do whatever they can to protect their homes and themselves from the dangers of wildfires.
Here are a few things you can do to keep your home and family safe.
Get Rid of Combustible Items Around the Perimeter of Your Home
It’s a simple task, but it’s also an effective one. Eliminating all debris from around your home that can easily catch fire and allow it to spread is the first item on the agenda. Things like dead leaves, stacks of firewood, and dry bushes should be cleared out.
Ideally, anything that could potentially catch fire easily should be at least 30 feet away from the exterior of your home. The further away from your home, the better.
Choose Your Fencing, Decks, and Roof Materials Wisely
It can be tough to replace these items, but they are often the source major spreading of fires if they’re made out of wood. When you’re replacing or building these components, steer clear of wood. Roofs especially are extremely vulnerable to fires, so cedar shingles should never be considered.
Instead of wood, consider non-combustible materials, such as asphalt, steel, and tile for your roof. For your fence and deck, consider stone or concrete. And for the exterior walls, stay away from wood-based siding and stick with brick, stucco, or cement.
Plant Fire-Resistant Greenery in Your Landscaping
Your home’s landscaping is important for esthetic and curb appeal, and can also provide some much-needed shade from the sizzling sun. But that same landscaping can also provide an easy way to bring a fire into your home.
When landscaping, look for fire-resistant plants to add around your home’s exterior, such as deciduous trees and shrubs. And resist the urge to add decorative climbing vines to your exterior walls. Sure, they may look pretty, but they also catch fire easier as well. In addition, make sure that your grass is cut regularly and kept moist.
Screen Your Home’s Eavestroughs
An easy way for fire embers to make their way into your home and start a fire inside is through eavestrough openings and vents. Make sure that these areas are properly screened. While you’re at it, make sure to keep your eavestroughs clean and free of debris, which can also be sources of fires starting and spreading.
Upgrade Windows and Treatments
Intense heat from fires can easily break windows and allow fires to get into a home. Drapes and other window treatments can also easily catch fire. To combat this issue, use fire-resistant materials for drapes and treatments, and consider upgrading your windows to those that feature dual-paned glass or a heat-reflective coating.
Install Smoke Detectors
If you haven’t done so already, make sure that every level of your home is outfitted with a smoke detector. But once they are installed, don’t just leave them. Every month, you should take the time to make sure the batteries are still functional. Also, inspect the actual smoke detectors to verify that they’re still in good working order.
Keep a Fire Extinguisher Handy
A quick way to put out a small fire before it’s given the chance to spread is to keep a fire extinguisher or two handy. Ideally, you’ll have one on each level. Make sure everyone in the house knows where they are and how to operate them.
Make Sure Your Homeowners Insurance Policy is Up-to-Date
In the unfortunate vent that a fire does occur, make sure your policy will cover the damage. If your insurance coverage is not up-to-date, you could find yourself disappointed if you find out that your policy doesn’t offer adequate protection against the damage from a fire.
The Bottom Line
There are certain areas in California that are particularly susceptible to fires. But even in areas that are at lower risk, homeowners should still take measures to minimize the odds of their house catching on fire. As we’ve seen many times, these fires can catch on quickly and spread even faster. Consider the above tips to protect your home when wildfires strike.