Northern California homeowners enjoy some of the world’s most spectacular scenes of natural beauty just beyond their front doors. But wildfires are a fact of life here, just as much in wooded suburban neighborhoods as in backcountry fields and forests.
Last week was Wildfire Awareness Week in California, an annual effort by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection — also known as Cal Fire — to remind homeowners that a little bit of planning and simple preventive measures can go a long way toward keeping fire risks low and your families safe as the summer fire season approaches.
Cal Fire has packaged its advice in a series of downloadable brochures collectively called “Ready, Set Go!”
The “Ready” brochure shows how to create a “defensible space” around your home by trimming trees and keeping grass and shrubs a safe distance away. It recommends a 30-foot zone around your home with trimmed vegetation as a buffer against sparks and flames, and a larger zone extending 100 feet from the home with trees and shrubs widely spaced to slow a wildfire’s advance.
Cal Fire also offers tips to to fortify your home. The roof is the most vulnerable part of your home, and wood or shingle roofs are at high risk of being destroyed during a wildfire. A roof made of composite materials, metal, or tile is safest. Also, make sure that all vents are covered to prevent sparks from traveling inside.
Decks and exterior walls should be made of ignition-resistant materials such as stucco, fiber, or cement. If you insist on wood siding, make it fire-retardant-treated wood.
The companion “Set” brochure, explains how to develop a wildfire action plan — preparing for an evacuation and compiling an emergency supply kit. It comes with an important reminder: “In an emergency it is easy to become confused or panicked. Preparing your wildfire action plan in advance will help keep you focused and able to act quickly when evacuation is anticipated or needed.”
Lastly, Cal Fire’s “Go!” brochure is a quick-reference evacuation guide: what to do if a wildfire strikes, when to evacuate, and what to do if you become trapped in your vehicle, on foot, or in your home.
For more fire safety tips, check out dozens of downloadable fact sheets from Cal Fire. They’re free and informative, and they could save your life one day.
(Photo: Flickr/ATOMIC Hot Links)