In the U.S., fires kill more people each year than all natural disasters combined. An average of 5 million acres are burned and thousands of homes are destroyed during a fire season that lasts from May to October and, in some areas, all year long. If you live in the foothills, grasslands or mountains, you are at risk. These tips will help you plan ahead so you’re prepared should a wildfire encroach your home.
Design your home with fire safety in mind
- Select materials that can help contain fire rather than fuel it.
- Use fire-resistant or non-combustible materials like tile, metal or slate on the roof.
- Consider treating the exterior of your home with UL-approved fire-retardant chemicals.
Protect your home
- Install a smoke detector on each level of your home and inspect them monthly.
- Teach each family member how to use the fire extinguisher and where it's kept.
- Keep household items handy that can be used as fire tools such as a rake, ax, handsaw or chain saw, bucket and shovel.
Create a defensible zone around your home
- Remove all dry grass, brush, dead leaves and branches 30 to 100 feet around your home.
- Regularly clear your roof and gutters of pine needles, leaves, and other debris.
- Landscape with fire-resistant plants, which include most deciduous shrubs and trees. Mow grass often. Clear vines from all walls.
Maintain an emergency water supply
- Be sure there is an outside water source like a working fire hydrant or a well near your home.
- If needed, consider a community emergency storage tank with 5,000 gallons for each property.
- Clearly mark all emergency water sources and maintain easy firefighter access to them.
Assemble emergency supplies
- Include a three-day supply of water, food, prescription medicine, and clothing.
- Pack a hand-crank or battery-powered radio and flashlight (and plenty of batteries).
- Make sure you have an extra set of car keys and a credit card, cash, or traveler's checks.
Take action when wildfire threatens
- Make plans for yourself, your family and your pets, including overnight housing.
- Listen to fire reports and watch for changes in the speed and direction of fire and smoke.
- If advised to evacuate, do so immediately. Remember your safety comes first!