Every year California goes through an incredibly destructive cycle – the winds, the wildfires, and the subsequent rains that cause mudslides and severe property damage.
Since 2000 the wildfire cycle has gotten increasingly more extreme. As of this writing there has already been over 6,400 fires across California burning over 250,000 acres, costing millions in fire fighting and suppression and causing several fatalities. For many it isn’t too late to take precautionary actions to see your home safely through the fire season.
Follow these four tips, and plans of action to help protect your home from the devastation.
Fire Season Safety
Create a Defensible Space for Your Home
Defensible space is necessary to give your home the bare minimum amount of protection it needs. This consists of two zones around the home that reach out to 100ft total. The first zone is from the home proper to 30ft out. In this area homeowners need to remove all dead or dying leaves, brush, or trees, as well as make sure there is distance between vegetation and anything that might be flammable like patio furniture.
In the second zone, the next 70ft, all leaves, grass, and branches that have built up over time need to be removed. Homeowners should pay attention to the distance between bushes and trees, both horizontally and vertically. Fires burn outward and up, able to leap from lower bushes into trees. As soon as the fire reaches the tops of trees, fighting it becomes that much harder.
You can learn a whole lot more about creating a defensible space and other wildfire prep from ReadyForWildfire.org
Prepping Your Home
In addition to creating a safer perimeter around your home, there are improvements you can make to the structure itself to help it better weather the wildfire season. Roof, windows, decks, and rain gutters can all be addressed to help reduce the
Roof with wooden shingles should be re-roofed using sturdier options like tile or composite materials. Windows should be double-paned with at least one pane of tempered glass to help prevent breaking from heat. If you have a deck already, make sure any combustible items are removed from under the deck and clean out rain gutters for any ignitable debris.
If you have the means and time, rebuilding your home (deck, roof, walls, etc.) with materials that are ignition resistant can help your home make it through the fire season.
Prep a Family Plan
Creating an emergency plan that your family knows and knows how to follow can save you minutes when seconds matter. The Department of Homeland Security suggests starting a plan by answering these four questions:
How will I receive emergency alerts and warnings?
What is my shelter plan?
What is my evacuation route?
What is my family/household communication plan?
Answering these questions can give you a solid foundation of a plan. Then fine tune it by addressing any specific dietary needs, medicine, extra care your family needs.
Track what responsibilities each member of your family can handle, can your daughter be in charge of grabbing the dog’s supplies? By giving everyone (who can handle one) a job you can share the load of emergency prep. Prepare a room in your home that can be cut off entirely from the outside air and weather the worst of it. Get a supply of N95 respirator masks and a portable air purifier to help filter the smoke. Plan several possible routes in case your primary route becomes inaccessible.
Practice, Practice, Practice
With a plan in place, you need to practice it. Making sure your family knows the plan like the back of their hands is necessary for it to be effective at all. Toughing out a wildfire or evacuating in a hurry is stressful. Doing your best to memorize the plan while it is safe to do so is critical to comba that stress response and make sure everyone knows their role and makes it through safely.
Use FEMAs Plan Documents to help your family prepare for an emergency.
And remember, if the authorities tell you you need to evacuate, DO IT! Experts are watching and predicting the route thee fires can take, and even then they are unpredictable! If it seems possible that your home can become affected, getting you and your loved ones out of harm’s way is the most critical step you can take to make it through the wildfire season.
Loss of home and belongings is incredibly painful, but cleaning up and rebuilding is possible. The most important thing is to make it through the fire season safely. From all of us here at The BIOClean Team, stay safe out there!