Wildfires burning in four Western states have scorched hundreds of thousands of acres, caused thousands to evacuate, and destroyed hundreds of homes. If you live in an area where wildfires put your home at risk, you need to both protect your home and prepare your family to quickly get out of the way.
To create defensible space around your home:
- Remove vegetation that could burn, like dead plants, dried grass, fallen tree branches, and dead leaves in a 100-ft. circle around your home.
- Separate and prune back plants and shrubs so fire can’t spread from one plant to another.
- Remove ladder fuels — low branches, plants, shrubs, and other potential sources of fuel that can lead a ground fire into your trees.
- Use fire-resistant plants and non-combustible materials like gravel or rocks to create a 5-ft. barrier around the base of your home.
- Keep it up — make cleaning the area around your home a weekly chore.
The American Red Cross offers these tips to home owners in areas under wildfire alerts:
- Be ready to leave at a moment’s notice. Plan and practice using two ways out of your neighborhood.
- Plan where family members will meet if they have to evacuate separately.
- Listen to local radio and television stations for updated emergency information.
- Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape.
- Confine pets to one room so you can find them if you need to evacuate quickly.
- Arrange for temporary housing at a friend or relative’s home outside the threatened area.
- Store emergency phone numbers in your phone — police, fire, and rescue agencies; power companies; insurance providers; family, friends, and co-workers.
- Be ready to communicate by brief text messages as needed — it conserves capacity on wireless networks so they’re more available to emergency agencies.
Source: California Fire Alliance, The American Red Cross, and Verizon