“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
â€• Benjamin Franklin
When it comes to fire prevention, this quote couldn’t be more relevant.
Help keep your family and property safe by knowing the fire risks that your home faces and implementing a plan to protect against them.
Protecting Your Home From Wildfires
Improve your home's chance of surviving a wildfire with defensible space. Combustible materials stored near your home can easily catch fire if a floating ember is to land on them. Shrubs, trees, and grass that are near your home can also act as kindling should a wildfire move through your area.
Creating a buffer between buildings and flammable items or landscape features helps slow – or stop – the spread of wildfire, helping to protect your home from catching fire.
Doing what you can to prevent flames from reaching your home, as well as carefully planning the exterior to be resistant to catching from falling embers, will be essential to protecting your home.
Immediate Zone: 0-5' from exterior of home
Goal: Assuring that the home itself is non-combustible through care and maintenance.
- Clean debris, dead leaves, and pine needles that could act as kindling for falling embers from roof and gutters.
- Assure that any missing or loose shingles and repaired or replaced to protect from ember penetration.
- Install 1/8 inch metal mesh screening on vents in the eaves to reduce the chance of embers that could pass through them.
- Clean debris from exterior attic vents and install 1/8 inch metal mesh screening to reduce embers.
- Be sure loose window screens or broken windows are repaired or replaced.
- Remove anything stored beneath decks, porches, or patios. Also, box-in or screen open areas below decks, porches, or patios with wire mesh to combustible materials from accumulating beneath.
- Assure that there are no flammable materials along the wall exteriors, including flammable plants, mulch, leaves, needles, and firewood storage.
Intermediate Zone: 5-30' from exterior of home
Goal: Planning careful landscaping and creating breaks to help influence and decrease fire behavior.
- Assure that there is no vegetation underneath large, stationary propane tanks.
- Create fire breaks with thoughtfully placed walkways/paths, patios, decks and driveways.
- Keep all native grasses and lawns mowed to a height no higher than four inches.
- Remove vegetation under trees, which can act as fuel a ladder that helps a fire climb from the surface into the crown of a tree.
- Prune tall trees six to ten feet from the ground and shorter trees up to 1/3 of their overall tree heights.
- Assure that trees are spaced out with a minimum of distance of eighteen feet between crowns, increasing the distance based on the percentage of slope.
- Plan tree placement to ensure that the mature canopy is no closer than ten feet to the edge of the structure.
- Limited trees and shrubs in this zone should to small clusters of a few each, breaking up the continuity of the vegetation across the landscape.
Extended Zone: 30-100' from exterior of home
Goal: Rather than trying to eliminate all fire, the goal is to interrupt its path and keep flames small and on the ground through thoughtful landscaping.
- Keep ground free of heavy accumulations of litter and debris.
- Remove dead tree and plant material.
- Remove small trees growing between mature trees.
- Remove vegetation near outbuildings.
- Assure that have at least 12 feet between canopy tops of trees that are within 30 to 60 feet on the home should.
- Trees 60 to 100 feet from the home should have at least 6 feet between the canopy tops.
Consult your local forestry professional for specific advice on tree spacing based on your variety, slope, and other specific site conditions that pertain to your home.
Preventing Fires in the Home
Smoke Alarms Save Lives
A properly functioning smoke alarm increases your chances of surviving what could be a deadly home fire significantly.
- Be sure smoke alarms are installed at every level of your home, inside and outside sleeping areas.
- Replace batteries once a year, except in non-replaceable lithium batteries.
- Perform monthly battery tests.
- Always replace smoke alarms every 8-10 years.
- Don't disable a smoke alarm when cooking – ever. I could be a deadly mistake.
Cooking fires are the #1 cause of fires and fire-related injuries in the home.
Prevention: Never leave the kitchen while cooking, particularly if your are using cooking oil or high temperatures. Always check that your oven/stove is turned off before leaving the kitchen unattended. When cooking, be sure that dish towels, loose clothing, and other fabric is kept away from any heat source.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, each year an estimated 7,000 fires, 200 injuries, and 10 deaths are attributed to dryer fires. The leading cause of these blazes is not cleaning the dryer.
Prevention: Clean the lint trap after every load and the dryer vent every few months to prevent fires in your home.
Gasoline, cleaning agents, adhesives, and paints – to name a few – are highly ï¬‚ameable and can start a ï¬re when exposed to high temperatures or small sparks of static electricity.
Prevention: Store flammable liquids far from any source of heat and, whenever possible, keep them in a well ventilated and cool area.
A common culprit of starting house fires, smoking accidents are the perfect reason to not smoke in your home.
Prevention: Be sure any smokers in your home go outside to smoke and that they take precautions to assure that cigarettes are put out all the way when they're finished. The best way to be sure is to run the cigarette butt under water to extinguish it.
Children and Pets
Kids and pets are curious by nature. Leaving them alone with an open flame endangers them and your home.
Prevention: Never leave children or pets alone with burning candles and keep them away from stoves that are in use. Furthermore, talk to your kids about the dangers of fire and assure that they have a healthy respect for the damage that can be caused by playing with it.
Portable Space Heaters
Space heaters are responsible for one-third of heating fires, making them a serious fire risk to your home.
Prevention: Be sure to keep all flammable items at least three feet away from space heaters that are kept on a stable and flat surface. When selecting your space heater, opt for a model that is designed to turn off automatically should it tip over. Never leave them on overnight or unattended.
Accounting for an estimated 51,000 fires each year, home electrical fires are annually responsible for nearly 500 deaths, over 1,400 injuries, and $1.3 billion in property damage.
Prevention: Assure that appliances are in proper working order, that frayed or damaged cords are replaced, that outlets aren't overloaded, and that extension cords are not tucked under flammable materials. Also, be sure that you use only light bulbs with wattage that is recommended for the fixture.
With over 25,000 chimney fires in the US annually, causing over 125 million dollars in property damage, fireplace safety is a must.
Prevention: Be sure to keep your chimney cleaned of any flammable debris with regular maintenance, keep flammable items away from it, and use a large fireplace screen that not only covers the opening entirely but it also heavy enough to block any logs from rolling out.
Preparing with a defensible space, while taking precautions in the home, can help you prevent damage or injury from a house fire.