Californians are on high alert most years as persistent near-drought conditions, combined with warmer temperatures and severe winds, often mean worse and more frequent fires. So, what can you as a homeowner do to prepare your home and garden?
Small fixes on a regular basis can be a big difference when it comes to an approaching fire. This goes for the rest of our steps below. Each of these steps are important, but what’s most important is keeping up with them on a consistent basis so that the efforts can be maximized.
Remove Dead and Dry Plants
If you have dead plants, grass, weeds, leaves, etc. in your yard, you’ll want to make sure that these are regularly removed from your yard, roof, gutters, and under your decks as these are highly flammable. This includes relocating mulch and other wood piles more than 30 feet from your home.
Keep Grass and Vegetation Cut Down
You should make it a practice to make sure that all grass is cut to 4 in or shorter within 100 feet of your home.
Trim Trees Back from Roof
Tree branches should be kept back to a minimum of 10 feet from your home. You should remove branches that extend over or touch your roof in any way.
Avoid Flammable Plants Near Windows
Most homes use shrubs and bushes as entryway plants and privacy borders, but they are highly flammable and shouldn’t be kept near windows. Keep them well pruned or plant fire-resistant plants near the home as an alternative.
Separate Plants from Structures and Furniture
If you do have shrubs and trees in your yard, make sure that you allow for both horizontal and vertical spacing between the vegetation and your patio furniture, play structures, outdoor grills, and more.
Plant Fire-Resistant Plants
Fire-Resistant plants are high in moisture and have a low sap or resin content. Cal Fire has a guide to different fire-resistant plants for reference.
Install Sprinklers, Pools, and Other Water Sources
Having water sources is essential in wildfire areas. Installing sprinklers, fire hydrants, water pumps and in ground pools or other water sources could save your home
If a fire is upon you and you have time before evacuating:
If you have plenty of time, fill pools, spas, and any other water bodies you have access too. Additionally, soak your yard, trees, plans, and your roof to give your home some more time against a fire. Another good idea to do before evacuating, if you have more than enough time, is to remove anything that could be combustible. This includes BBQs, grills, fuel cans, propane tanks, etc. You should shut off all natural gas and fuel sources.
As with any emergency, having a plan is imperative. Purchase a fire safety kit, have an evacuation plan, and maintain your home in a way that gives you the best possible chance of a positive outcome in the event of a fire.