If you live in an area susceptible to wildfires, you'll want to take action to ensure that your home - and your family- are safe if a fire gets close.  The number of fires and amount of damage caused by wildfires has increased dramatically over the last few decades, but there are still a number of things you can do to minimize the risk to your home when a wildfire is near.   Here's how to protect your home from wildfires.

Clear out your zone.  Clear away any combustible debris from around your house - things like dry grass, brush, downed trees.  Even stacks of firewood should be moved away from the house.  Fire experts recommend a "defensible zone" of at least 30 feet - or 100 feet if you live in California - around your home to improve the odds that your home will survive if a fire is in the area.

Check out this video from the Bureau of Land Management on how to create defensible space around your property:

Clean off your roof. Don't just look out your windows to make sure your house is clear from debris, check the roof too.  Clean roof surfaces and gutters regularly to get rid of any leave, twigs, pine needles, and other flammable materials that may have accumulated.

Make it a clean sweep. Fire experts recommend having your chimney inspected at least twice a year and cleaned regularly to remove soot or creosote buildup.

Know where your water is. If a fire does encroach your area, firefighters may need fast access to water to protect your home.  Keep a map handy with nearby creeks, rivers, lakes, and ponds, so that firefighters can get additional water when and if they need it.

Plan your escape. In the event that a fire does blaze into your area, you and your family should have at least two different exit routes from your property.  Make sure that everyone knows the plan and keep emergency numbers posted where they can be accessed quickly when needed.

How to protect your home from a wildfire
Tips from the experts on how to reduce the risk to your home if a wildfire encroaches.